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Potential Smoking Age Increase
Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on September 08, 2013 @ 7:47PM
Created on September 08, 2013 @ 7:30PM

If a proposal is signed by Mayor Bloomberg, the smoking age in New York could shift to 21.

It's no surprise that tobacco products of any kind come with a great health risk. But where do you draw the line between making a law to help people's health, versus infringing on a person's right to choose?

Recent studies show that 90% of smokers have already started smoking before the age of 18. They say that an 18-year-old is not necessarily thinking of the long-term health risks, and that a 21 year old is more likely to make major health decisions.

But not everyone agrees with this stance.

"I feel like it's not constitutional. I feel that at the age of 18, you're conscious and aware of your life decisions, and as far as smoking goes, if you can go to war at 18 why not be able to have a cigarette," said Julian Turner, from Monongalia County.

The ultimate goal of the state of New York is to prevent teens from ever picking up a cigarette. Statistics show that out of 3 young smokers, one will quit, and one of the other two will die from a smoking related disease.

Even with all this said many people believe that it's still a personal choice and raising the age won't stop anything.

"I think it doesn't make a difference either way, People are going to smoke either way," said Joe Tatta, from Monongalia County.

"Obviously at 18, you have the right to choose and they're taking that away. But there are some serious health benefits by waiting until your 21. I'd personally say raise it to 21 for the health benefits," said Adam Gurskey from Monongalia County.

Officials in New York estimate that with the age increase to 21, it will cut tobacco use by 55% among 18-20 year olds with a 67% drop for younger teens.

If this proves to be effective the trend may move to other places In the country and effect more people.

For now, experts suggest increasing the amount of health education to prevent teens from ever starting.

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