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.