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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a plan yesterday that would raise the minimum smoking age in New York City to 21.

According to officials, 80 percent of the area’s residents start this habit in their teens – and the new measure would seek to cut down on such a preventable cause of death.

“The point here is to really address where smoking begins,” Quinn said as she spoke to reporters, surrounded by colleagues and the city’s health commissioner.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg backs the new law, but there are two main arguments against raising the age from 18 to 21:

  1. It may drive customers away from city stores, affecting local business.
  2. It’s an example of “government paternalism at its worst,” according to at least one smokers’ rights advocate who spoke up yesterday.

The legal drinking age in the city, of course, is also 21; while 18-year olds are permitted to vote and purchase pornography.

Do you think NYC should raise its minimum smoking age?