First, we at Twenty-One Debunked, and I personally as a New Yorker, would like to thank you for supporting cannabis legalization, albeit with some nuance. We also would like to thank you for standing up to Trump whenever possible thus far.
That said, we at Twenty-One Debunked simply cannot get behind your recent proposal to raise the age limit for tobacco and vaping devices from 18 to 21. We believe it is an unnecessarily ageist policy to set the age limit any higher than the current age of majority, which is 18 in New York. Thus, first and foremost, we oppose such a policy on principle--just as we feel the same way about the drinking age and the soon to be legal toking age as well.
And while there are already several counties, including NYC and its entire "backyard", such as Westchester County where I live, that have raised the smoking and vaping age to 21, there is really no hard evidence that it reduces youth smoking rates compared to keeping it 18. The same goes for other states and localities that have raised their age limits in recent years. In fact, to the extent that it makes vaping devices harder for 18-20 year olds to get, it could easily steer current vapers back to smoking, which would clearly not be good for public health.
So what can be done instead to further reduce already low and falling smoking rates for both youth and adults?
- Tobacco taxes can of course be hiked further, though in New York they are already the highest in the nation, and even higher still in NYC. And there is already quite a black market for contraband cigarettes now.
- The current age limit of 18 can of course be more vigorously enforced, as there is still room for improvement in terms of retailer compliance rates.
- Limit and reduce the number and density of outlets that sell tobacco products (for example, your plan to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies).
- Build on NYC's already successful smoking cessation program, with free nicotine patches and gum available for all smokers who wish to quit.
- Advertising restrictions to the greatest extent that the US Constitution will allow.
- Counter-advertising, such as the Truth campaign, has been shown to work wonders in other states like Florida and California.
- Consider phasing down the maximum allowable nicotine content of cigarettes to a non-addictive level.
- For e-cigarettes, cap the nicotine content of vape products down to European and Israeli levels (JUUL, we're looking at YOU).
Thus, we ask that you please reconsider your support for the 21 age limit for tobacco and vaping, and we hope you will realize that keeping it 18 is the right thing to do.
Ajax the Great, Twenty-One Debunked