Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Raising Legal Age To Sell Tobacco Products And Curb Cigarette Tax Evasion

November 19, 2013

Remarks by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws

“The first two of nine bills before me today further our successful efforts to reduce smoking in New York City. Introductory Number 250-A, sponsored by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Gennaro, Chin, Palma, Van Bramer, Rodriguez, Rivera, Dromm, Vacca, Brewer, Dickens, Crowley, Eugene and King raises the legal age to sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to twenty-one, which will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted.

“Any person operating a place of business where cigarettes, tobacco products, or electronic cigarettes are sold or offered for sale will be prohibited from selling such products to anyone under the age of twenty-one and they will be required to post a sign in a conspicuous location stating the new law. Sales of these products shall be made only to an individual who demonstrates, through a driver's license or other photographic identification card issued by a government entity or educational institution, that the individual is at least twenty-one years of age.

“Next is Introductory Number 1021-A, sponsored at the request of our Administration by Council Members Arroyo, Cabrera, Chin, Comrie, Dromm, Fidler, King, Lander, Lappin, Rodriguez, Levin, Vann, Vacca, Palma, Gennaro, Koslowitz, Van Bramer, Koo, Crowley, Eugene and Recchia. This legislation will curb the evasion of cigarette taxes; ban the redemption of coupons and other price reduction instruments in the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to consumers; create a price floor for a pack of cigarettes and little cigars; and require inexpensive cigars to be sold in packages of no fewer than four.

“In addition this law will allow the Department of Finance to seal the premises of those retailers who violate the law three times over three year period. Cigarette tax evasion puts law-abiding retailers at a competitive disadvantage relative to retailers and street sellers selling untaxed cigarettes. Cigarette tax evasion also hurts the government and taxpayers. New York State’s Department of Health estimated that cigarette excise tax evasion deprived the State of $500 million in 2009.

“I would like to thank Department of Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, Department of Finance Commissioner Beth Goldman, Director of Health Services Andrea Cohen, Law Department Senior Counsel Andrea Fastenberg and all their staff, along with my Office of City Legislative Affairs for their work on these bills. I would also like to thank the City Council for approving this legislation.”

Contact: Marc LaVorgna/Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958