Now that New York City has raised the minimum age to buy a pack of cigarettes from 18 to 21, there is a new movement to raise the minimum age in Texas as well.
“We think it is a good step for New York City, and we think it would be a good step for Texas as well,” Danny McGoldrick with ‘Smoke Free Texas’ told 1200 WOAI news.
New York City is just the largest municipality that has taken this step, and supporters say it has borne fruit in places where it has been tried. The best example is Needham Massachusetts, which set 21 as the minimum age to buy all tobacco products in 2005.
Since then, rates of adult smoking in Needham, which is a suburb of Boston, have fallen 56%.
It is estimated by the American Cancer Society that 4,000 people under the age of 18 pick up their first cigarette every day. Of those, 1,000 go on to become daily cigarette smokers. Most adolescents report that they would ‘like to quit, but can’t.’
McGoldrick says 18 is simply too young to allow a person to make a potentially life altering decision.
“This is something that would reduce the number one cause of preventable death in Texas,” he said about lowering the age for buying tobacco in the state to 18.”
He said unlike illegal drugs, where there is a huge markup and plenty of opportunity for organized crime to smuggle drugs into the U.S., supporters of a lower age for buying cigarettes point out that the total number of potential customers and the potential profit would not be big enough for Los Zetas to get involved in smuggling cigarette.
“We’re not asking for some big new government program,” he said. “We are just trying to keep the leading preventable cause of death in Texas and everywhere else in the country out of the hands of our young people.”