On Wednesday, New York City lawmakers adopted the strictest limits on tobacco purchases in any US city.
The change would make 21 the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco items (the current minimum age is 18). The New York City Council also voted to set a $10.50 minimum price for a pack of cigarettes.
The Council passed these new rules in the name of “keeping us healthy.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “This legislation will reduce smoking rates among New Yorkers — especially young New Yorkers — sparing them years of nicotine addiction and health problems.”
City Councilman James Gennaro, the bill’s sponsor, said, “This will literally save many, many lives.”
The new rules compliment recent efforts by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been trying to raise tobacco taxes and make all restaurants and bars smoke-free.
Following the Council’s vote, Bloomberg said, “By increasing the smoking age to 21 we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking. It’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start.”
As noble as the Council’s rules sound, there could be some down sides.
ABC News points out that “cigarette manufacturers have suggested young adult smokers may just turn to black-market merchants. And some smokers say it’s unfair and patronizing to tell people considered mature enough to vote and serve in the military that they’re not old enough to decide whether to smoke.”
Even if the new rule did make some people “healthier,” when did it become the government’s job to control what adults do to their own bodies? Has America become a complete nanny state? Of course, increased smoking regulation is tied to the advent of public health care. When Washington provides and pays for your health care, it will then try to control what you eat and smoke. Government continues growing.
America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. If people want to make poor choices, they should be allowed to. Of course, it is unfair to make the rest of us pay for their lung cancer. This is why ObamaCare (the biggest government power-grab in a generation) must be overturned immediately. In a free country, government cannot dictate lifestyle choices, nor can it become the overprotective Mommy and Daddy of its citizens. Freedom means having the right to make bad choices and then deal with the consequences ourselves.
Still, politicians will likely keep regulating. Quinn said, “We have to do more and that’s what we’re doing today.”