I found a great way to avoid watching the Red Sox win the national championship...I watched NYC's Council Members act on their own championship for strong tobacco control policies! New York City once again is leading the country in prioritizing heart disease and stroke prevention over the scare-tactics of the tobacco industry. Two bills were passed by an overwhelming majority last night, both of which we hope will have far-reaching effect on stagnant youth smoking rates and the disparate rate of addiction among our communities of color.
The first bill will increase the legal age to sell tobacco products to 21. It's important to note (based upon the debate on the floor last night), this bill does not make it illegal for a person under the age of 21 to smoke. The police will not be stopping anyone seen smoking to ask how old they are. Rather, it will be illegal for a retailer to sell tobacco to anyone under the age limit. This measure is vitally important as most smokers become addictetd before the age of 21.
The second bill establishes a baseline price for all packs of cigarettes sold in the city. It also bans the use of coupons and other price discounts. There are also parts of the bill that will strengthen the enforcement of NYC's highest excise tax. The main intent behind this second bill is to make sure the city is receiving the full health benefit from our tax. Big Tobacco has found every possible loophole to make tobacco cheaper in order to collect more addicts. We expect this second policy will have a significant impact on youth access as well as encouraging more adult smokers to quit.
For more information about quitting smoking in New York City, dial 311 for help or visit https://a816-nycquits.nyc.gov.