Lung Association Applauds Mayor Bloomberg for Signing Package of Tobacco Control Bills Which Will Save Lives, Reduce Youth Smoking

(November 19, 2013)

The American Lung Association of the Northeast today applauded Mayor Michael Bloomberg for signing two bills which will prevent more lung disease and save more lives by reducing youth smoking and cracking down on the illegal cigarette smuggling that has resulted in tobacco being available at artificially low prices.   Both measures were approved by the City Council in October and will be put in effect in steps with full implementation by May.

Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast, said “Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, the City Council, Commissioner Farley and the DOHMH are to be commended for implementing this legislation that will prevent another generation of New York City kids from becoming addicted to tobacco. Despite all the progress we’ve made, 20,000 high school students in New York City still smoke and many of them will one day succumb to tobacco-caused disease.  It’s the courage to take bold measures like this building upon New York City’s Smokefree Air Act, which was enacted 10 years ago, that will pay dividends in the form of lives saved in the future.  We thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership and for all he has done to improve New Yorkers’ health.”  

The “Tobacco 21’ bill raises the minimum legal sale age for purchasing tobacco products to age 21.  According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, about 80 percent of smokers in New York City started smoking before they reached age 21.  The Department further cited that one estimate indicates that raising the minimum age would decrease smoking prevalence by 67% for 14-17 year olds and 55% for 18-20 year olds.  This law will go into effect on May 19, 2014.

The Sensible Tobacco Enforcement Act, will step up enforcement against retailers who evade tobacco taxes or sell   without a license, prohibit coupons or price discounts for tobacco products, create a minimum price for cigarettes and little cigars, and set minimum packaging requirements for cheap cigars, little cigars and cigarillos to crack down on the sale of “loosies.” The increased enforcement penalties will go into effect immediately while the discount, price and packaging provisions will go into effect on May 19, 2014.