Why NYACS Believes Tobacco 21 Won't Work in New York
ALBANY, NY (04/30/2018) (readMedia)-- The New York Association of Convenience Stores is a trade organization representing more than 8,000 neighborhood mini marts statewide.
NYACS is a New York State Department of Health-approved provider of certified training for retail managers, clerks and cashiers in how to thwart underage tobacco purchase attempts. Thousands of times every day, across the state, our licensed members properly check ID. Their high compliance rate, which in many counties is 100 percent, reflects their ongoing commitment to preventing youth access to tobacco.
Despite this, younger teens still manage to get cigarettes from older friends and family members who disregard the legal purchase age, including those 18 through 20. Regrettably, this chain of supply would not be broken if Tobacco 21 were enacted in New York, because:
- 19-year-olds statewide would be just as resourceful as 15-year-olds in finding social sources – Uncle Earl, Lenny down the block, or Mommy's pocketbook.
- Older teens statewide could tap into a thriving black market that already accounts for 57 percent of New York's cigarette consumption, according to the Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation.
- Older teens in 10 upstate counties would be able to legally buy tobacco in adjacent Pennsylvania, which has an 18 purchase age.
The public health community tells us that smoking is bad for one's health. That adolescent brains are especially susceptible to nicotine. That we don't want any child to ever start smoking. And they're absolutely right. Their cause is noble. But due to the sad realities of how and where kids get cigarettes illegally across New York, unfortunately their proposed solution won't work.
Surprisingly, New York State's policy regarding kids who manage to get cigarettes illegally is "smoke 'em if you got 'em." From our perspective, addressing that deficiency would be the better approach. By prohibiting underage possession, there would be a mechanism for taking the cigarettes away from them, and forcing them to attend a smoking cessation class.
NYACS and its members remain committed to preventing youth access to tobacco, and respect the views of those with whom we share that common objective.