County discusses raising minimum cigarette purchase age

Montgomery County may become the latest municipality to raise the age for purchasing tobacco from the current minimum of 18 to 21.

County legislators discussed the idea Tuesday at a meeting of the Education and Government Committee. The change would have to be made by a local law. Legislators examined three local laws from other municipalities and talked about the form Montgomery County’s law should take.

District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush said he wanted to make sure the law punishes the appropriate person or persons. He compared the situation to an

“It’s like selling alcohol,” he said. “If the business owner is penalized, nothing happens to the kid and nothing happens to the parent.”

District 9 Legislator Robert Purtell said he favors the idea of a local law, but he wants to take more time to examine various aspects of the issue.

District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz raised the strongest objection, saying government should not tell people what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Currently Hawaii and California are the only states to establish a state-wide minimum purchase age of 21. More than 150 cities in 11 states have set a minimum purchase age of 21, including New York City, Chicago, Boston and both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, according to information from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Representatives from that organization came to last month’s meeting of the Legislature to ask for the age to be raised.

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.