Reaction to NY proposal to raise legal smoking age to 21

Proposed legislation to raise smoking age to 21 could have major impact on small businesses.

The state of New York is now considering raising the age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21.

State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal announced the plan to raise the minimum age on Sunday.

Selling cigarettes is part of everyday business at place's like Rocky's News Stand in syracuse. If the state proposal goes through, Owner Michael Glynn says they'll have to start turning away some of their customers.

"We're probably 25 and over by in large, but still we have enough customers in a younger age group that will warrant us being careful with the ids," says Glynn.

In Onondaga County, merchants can't sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19 unless they're a service member. The Onondaga County Legislature voted to raise the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 19 in 2008.

It's common knowledge that smoking at any age is for you. Experts like Chris Owens, the Director of the Tobacco Cessation Center at St. Joseph's Hospital, say the key is to prevent kids from picking up the habit before they take the first puff.

"The younger you are when you start using tobacco the more addicted you can become because that's when your neurological pathways in your brain are still developing," says Owens.

The question remains, what age should you have the right to smoke? Rocky's customer, Michael Sickler, says it's hard to justify destroying someone's business when the lesson should be learned at home.

"Go after the alcoholics who are drinking and driving, the texters, etc, etc. who take people with them," says Sickler.

It's a measure that would go farther than any other state in the country in an effort to put cigarettes out of the reach of kids.

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