New York City Raises Smoking Age to 21

Bloomberg Pushes Cigarettes From NYC

In the time that Michael Bloomberg has been mayor of New York, many health related reforms have been pushed through the city council. Many of these proposals have been unpopular at times, but overall they appear to have paid off. Bloomberg has passed many new laws aimed at targeting everything from high-calorie foods in restaurants, to cigarettes to sugary drinks and has encouraged active lifestyles through the creation of bike lanes throughout the city. The following graph shows the increase in life expectancy of residents of both NYC and Boston over the past several decades. Notice how fast life expectancy has risen in NYC since Bloomberg was elected in 2001.

Now surely not all of these gains can be directly attributed to Bloomberg's progressive health policies, but they certainly have not hurt the city. 

Waging War on Cigarettes

The current controversial proposal that is making it's way through the city is a measure that would raise the purchasing age of cigarettes within the city to 21 years. Right now the federal minimum age is 18 and New York would be the largest city to raise the limit to 21. Already cigarettes can cost upwards of $14 per pack within the city thanks to aggressive taxes. In the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, smoking rates within New York City plummeted from 22% to 14%, much faster than the national drop. The proposal to raise the age to 21 passed last night in the city council. 

Before complaining about the restrictiveness of personal freedom from the new law, consider the health effects just of smoking. Take a look at the drop in life expectancy that can be attributed to smoking.

Can we really argue that restricting access to cigarettes is a bad thing for New York or for society as a whole? It seems to me that Bloomberg's new proposal will continue the upward trend of health that is emerging in New York.