Following on the heels of New York City’s recent increase in the minimum age to buy tobacco from 19 to 21, nearby Suffolk County will soon be considering a similar proposal.
Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer has announced his intention to bring a bill before his colleagues in January, according to a report in the Times Beacon Record. Spencer is also a member of the Suffolk County Board of Health, which sent a letter to the legislature on November 20 recommending the age increase.
Spencer, a surgeon who has his own ear, nose and throat practice, acknowledged that some might feel his proposal tramples on the rights of smokers, but defended his proposal by citing studies that show the teenage brain is much more susceptible to becoming addicted to the substances found in many tobacco products. He also indicated that his measure would create one age standard between alcohol and tobacco.
The proposal has already garnered one critic, as Legislator John M. Kennedy Jr. told the paper that he feels it is “an overreach on the part of government to control or prohibit conduct that has previously been deemed legal.”
Suffolk County comprises the eastern end of Long Island and is home to nearly 1.5 million people.