Prohibition of Tobacco Purchases to Those Under 21

At a recent meeting with the North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the Town Board, the prohibition of the sale of tobacco products, liquid nicotine, and electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21 was voted upon unanimously 7-0 in favor of the legislation. The board agreed that the law was made to protect young people from the adverse effects of smoking and other actions of similar consequence. By making tobacco products less accessible to North Hempstead’s youth, the board hopes that the new legilstaion  will encourage the youth of our town to stop smoking. In reports by the CDC, nearly 90% of individuals addicted to tobacco began use prior to the age of 21.

The law will take effect starting March 1, 2017. North Hempstead will join New York City and Suffolk County in raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine revealed that raising the age for tobacco sales to 21 would significantly improve public health, reducing the smoking rate and smoking-related deaths. Following other local municipalities, North Hempstead created the legislation in hopes that state of New York passes a statewide Tobacco 21 bill.  

While there are multiple benefits to improve public health and well being, many disagree with the implications of the bill. Jim Calvin is President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, a 501 (c)(6) organization representing New York State convenience stores. He believes that the bill will not solve the problem of youth smoking because there are so many other ways that kids can get their products, not just at “licensed tax-collecting retail stores.” This brings up a myriad of questions that come with the fact that young people have multiple sources to get illegal goods.

While it remains a question how effective these bills will be in the future, we know for sure that this bill will reduce the number of kids purchasing tobacco products through licensed sellers, and will hopefully diminish the use of tobacco in our town.

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