Law To Increase the Age for Sale of Tobacco Products To 21
Legislator William R. Spencer introduced a bill that would raise the legal age for the sale of tobacco products in Suffolk County to 21. There will be a public hearing Tuesday, March 4th at 2:30 p.m. in the Evans K. Griffing Building Located at 300 Center Drive, Riverhead. Members of the public are allowed to speak for three minutes.
The rational behind the bill is the belief that tobacco use continues to be a leading cause of preventable illness and death. The thought is that Suffolk County has been a leader in the fight against the use of tobacco products by minors, having increased the legal age to purchase such products to 19 in 2004. The bill makes the claim that most smokers start using tobacco before they turn 21 years old and that the developing adolescent brain is far more susceptible to addiction than a more fully developed adult brain.
Another motivating factor listed was the claim that most smokers transition from experimental use to regular tobacco use around the age of 20. According to the bill most cigarette purchases for minors are made by persons just over the legal smoking age. Therefore, raising the legal smoking age to 21 should limit the access persons 18 years of age and younger have to tobacco products.
According to the bill when the Town of Needham, Massachusetts raised the legal sales age for the sale of tobacco products to 21, it reduced youth smoking by 50 percent.
The law would apply to the sale of Cigarettes, Cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, herbal cigarettes, rolling papers or pipes.
Any person who violates the law will be subject to a civil penalty by the Commissioner of the Department of Health Services of a minimum of $300, but not to exceed $1,000, for a first violation, and a minimum of $500, but not to exceed $1,500, for each subsequent violation.