Reaction to NYC Increasing Legal Age to Buy Tobacco

EAST STROUDSBURG — Here in Pennsylvania, you have to be 18 or over to buy tobacco products. But in New York City, the legal age has changed to 21.

Shannon Keag is a freshman at East Stroudsburg University. The 19-year-old from Staten Island, New York is also a smoker. She’s not happy about a new law in New York City that makes it illegal for her to buy tobacco products there.

“I would like the opportunity, if I choose to go buy them out there, I’m allowed to.  Now I’m not,” said Keag.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just signed a new law that makes it illegal for people under 21 to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products in the city.

But Keag believes smokers under 21 will still find a way to get tobacco.

“I’ve been smoking since I was in eighth grade, like when I was 13. If I could find a way around it then when the age was 18, I’m pretty sure anyone can find a way around it now,” said Keag.

Toni Feliciano from the Bronx, New York and is a junior at East Stroudsburg University.  She too is a smoker. She feels raising the legal age to buy tobacco is the wrong way to stop people from smoking.

“He should invest in something else. Like maybe a program or something that strays people away from that,” said Feliciano.

However, some non-smokers, like Frank Bruno of Lake Wallenpaupack, feel the new law in New York City is a good thing.

“The less people that can buy cigarettes, the less people who will die from lung cancer and diseases like that. So it’s smarter,” said Bruno, an East Stroudsburg University junior.

When asked if Pennsylvania should adopt a similar piece of legislation to make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products, you can imagine, most of the people we spoke with say they’re not too thrilled about that either.

“No, of course not, no. Come on. How many things are they going to limit to people?” said Feliciano.

“I don’t think it would be fair either because my parents aren’t around. I’m kind of stuck in another pickle. I have to rely on them to get my cigarettes, which really isn’t fair,” said Keag.

Right now, the mayor of East Stroudsburg says there is no legislation being discussed to increase the legal age to buy tobacco.

A spokesperson with the Tobacco Free Northeast Foundation says there also isn’t any legislation in the state to increase the legal age to buy tobacco.

12 comments

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  • disabled taxpayer

    I was a smoker at age 13 and found way’s every day to buy cigarettes . I did quit smoking @ age 38 only for 7 years and went back to smoking I don’t think a law will stop kids from buying smokes under age 21 sad but true

  • Elizabeth

    To me..I don’t know where your from but in NY there is no smoking in stores & restaurants basically the only legal place to smoke is in your own house and I’m sure they will find a way to get into that.I am a smoker and as a smoker I think the only way to solve the addiction is to stop producing tobacco.They can raise the age to 25 and they will still be able to get them.There is too much revenue in cigarettes for them to stop production of them.We are the highest taxed area in NY
    and if it wasn’t for us smokers everybody else taxes would be sky high

  • Bhil

    I do not smoke, and I do not enjoy the smell of smoke on my clothes when leaving a bar. With that being said, the government (local, state, or national) should not be able to tell people what they can and cannot do to their bodies. Not allowing people to smoke in certain establishments and locations, in order to protect others, should be all that is considered. If an adult wants to smoke in their home, vehicle, or any other place where it is deemed acceptable to smoke, they should be allowed to. Our government is continuing to baby us, and this needs to stop. If you want to eat a Big Mac, with super sized fries, while drinking a liter of Dr Pepper, and smoke a Marlboro before you ride off without a helmet on your motorcycle, then you should… and no one should say different.

    • Janet Den Haese Anderson

      where have you been. Smoking is not allowed in restaurants or bars and hasn’t been for years.What business is it of ours anyway??? We live in Pa. not NY…so who cares if they raise the age to 50…doesn’t affect us.

  • Rich Hudman

    I myself do not smoke and think it is a dirty disgusting habit. I can’t stand second hand smoke, it is very rude to others. cigarette butts thrown out the car window and scattered on sidewalks also drives me crazy. I don’t think they should change the age, just put out hefty fines for the ones that like to flick the butts out and have more designated smoking areas in high populated areas. The government wants to control more and more what people can and can not do. again, I can’t stand cigarettes, but hate government control more. Just please smokers, be considerate.

  • Red

    I love it! There is no other habit that affects others like smoking. I don’t want to breathe your secondhand smoke. I hope that prices continue to skyrocket and age limits go up. It’s awesome that the smokers who are killing themselves have to pay more and more all the time to do it.

    • Me

      I agree!! I hate being forced to smell the disgusting stench of smoking! I choose not to smoke and should not have to suffer because other people who are too dumb to know the facts about smoking. I hope they raise the ages in all the states and I hope prices go way up too it would be so nice to be able to walk into a store or restaurant or even drive down the road and not have smoke in my face!

  • eric

    Smoking is not a right, it is a privilege, despite what most locals believe. Stop the childish ranting about losing freedom because the argument does not apply. The vast majority of people in this area are chain smokers consuming at least two packs a day which is why, along with alcoholism, most are plagued with health problems. Your reaction is not surprising.

    • robbins

      No Eric, it’s a basic freedom to allow people to choose what they want to do with their own bodies. I agree with Bonnie, if one is old enough to serve in the military, he/she should be allowed to choose how to live their own lives. And if that means smoking, then so be it. The consequences are on them.

  • Bonnie Richardson

    I personally think it is wrong. Our 18 year olds can volunteer in any service they want but they can not smoke our drink for that matter if THEY CHOSE!! What other freedoms is this government going to take away from us!!! We are suppose to be free but with everything they are doing; for all intense purposes is against the Constitutional Right to be free and do what we want in our little lives…

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