Legislation is currently being considered by NY lawmakers to raise the smoking age to 21. Will it matter?

Senate Bill S3978 has advanced to the Senate Health Committee for consideration. The bill would raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill hopes to curb the early adoption of smoking as a habit - with hopes of stopping teens from becoming life-long smokers or tobacco users. The legislation would also include e-cigarettes.

According the memo accompanying the bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Savino of Staten Island, "Every year in New York, fifty-three thousand youth under the age of 18 become regular smokers. Many of them tried their first cigarette before they entered high school. 389,000 youth under the age of eighteen in New York will ultimately die prematurely from smoking."

It is unknown if the bill will be considered as part of the current legislative session.

Let's be realistic: the drinking age in NYS is 21, and doesn't seem to stop kids from getting their hands on alcohol. Have you ever seen a teenager turn down the beer because they were worries about it being illegal? Some parents are even okay with their kids drinking - usually around 18 - and prefer to give them the latitude to drink at home. Some parents argue that it's better to have them be honest - and more importantly, safe - if they're going to drink.

Does the same logic apply to smoking? Smoking is more addictive than drinking, and the long term ramifications are harder to know. The advent of e-cigarettes and juuling has taken away some of the "lung cancer" stigma surrounding smoking.

What do you think about this legislation? Should teens be allowed to make their own choices about smoking? Should there be a single age that determines when an individual can drink, vote, smoke, and enlist in the armed forces? Let us know in the comments.

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