Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia: Smoking Hookah Isn't Any Safer - Fox 2 News Headlines

Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia: Smoking Hookah Isn't Any Safer

Posted: Updated:

(FOX 11 / AP) Is smoking hookah safer than cigarettes? No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes in the city under a proposal unveiled Monday to make it the most populous place in America to set the minimum age that high.

Extending a decade of moves to crack down on smoking in the nation's largest city, the measure aims to stop young people from developing a habit that remains the leading preventable cause of death, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said as she announced the plan. Eighty percent of the city's smokers started lighting up before they were 21, officials say.

"The point here is to really address where smoking begins," she said, flanked by colleagues and the city's health commissioner. With support in the council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's backing, the proposal has the political ingredients to pass.

But it may face questions about its effectiveness and fairness. A retailers' representative suggested the measure would simply drive younger smokers to neighboring communities or corner-store cigarette sellers instead of city stores, while a smokers' rights advocate called it "government paternalism at its worst."

Under federal law, no one under 18 can buy tobacco anywhere in the country. Four states and some localities have raised the age to 19, and at least two communities have agreed to raise it to 21.

A similar proposal has been floated in the Texas Legislature, but it's on hold after a budget board estimated it would cost the state more than $42 million in cigarette tax revenue over two years.

To public health and anti-smoking advocates, the cost to government is far outstripped by smoking's toll on human lives.

They say a higher minimum age for buying tobacco discourages, or at least delays, young people from starting smoking and thereby limits their health risks.

"Curtailing smoking among these age groups is critical to winning the fight against tobacco and reducing the deaths, disease and health care costs it causes," said Susan M. Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Smoking has become less prevalent overall in New York City over the last decade but has plateaued at 8.5 percent among the city's public high school students since 2007. An estimated 20,000 of them smoke today.

It's already illegal for many of them to buy cigarettes, but raising the minimum age would also bar slightly older friends from buying smokes for them.

City officials cited statistical modeling, published in the journal Health Policy, that estimated that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 nationally could cut the smoking rate by two-thirds among 14-to-17-year-olds and by half among 18-to-20-year-olds over 50 years. Texas budget officials projected a one-third reduction in tobacco product use by 18-to-20-year-olds.

A higher minimum tobacco purchase age could cut into sales that make up 40 percent of gross revenues for the average convenience store, said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores. But he suggested younger smokers might just go outside the city - the minimum age is 19 in nearby Long Island and New Jersey, for instance - or to black-market merchants.

To smoker Audrey Silk, people considered old enough to vote and serve in the military should be allowed to decide whether to use cigarettes.

"Intolerance for anyone smoking is the anti-smokers' excuse to reduce adults to the status of children," said Silk, who founded a group that has sued the city over previous tobacco restrictions.

Advocates for the measure say the parallel isn't voting but drinking. They cite laws against selling alcohol to anyone under 21.

The nation's largest cigarette maker, Altria Group Inc., had no immediate comment, spokesman David Sutton said. He has previously noted that the Richmond, Va.-based company, which produces the top-selling Marlboro brand, supported federal legislation that in 2009 gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products, which includes various retail restrictions.

Doctor Sonu Ahluwalia is here with some of the medical topics making the news.

RELATED LINKS:

Like Dr. Ahluwalia on Facebook

Follow Dr. Ahluwalia on Twitter: @DrSonuAhluwalia

  • Experts and Other GuestsExperts and Other GuestsMore>>

  • Movie Critic Matt Atchity: Labor Day Weekend Movies

    Movie Critic Matt Atchity: Labor Day Weekend Movies

    Friday, August 29 2014 11:27 AM EDT2014-08-29 15:27:52 GMT

    Matt Atchity is the editor in chief for the pop-culture website "Rotten Tomatoes." He also hosts a new show on Sirius XM called "Rotten Tomatoes Radio." The weekly one hour call in show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

    Matt Atchity is the editor in chief for the pop-culture website "Rotten Tomatoes." He also hosts a new show on Sirius XM called "Rotten Tomatoes Radio." The weekly one hour call in show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.


  • Michael Costello & Rachel Zalis: Emmy Fashions

    Michael Costello & Rachel Zalis: Emmy Fashions

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 12:37 PM EDT2014-08-26 16:37:50 GMT
    Before the Emmy awards are even given out, it's all about the fashion. Here to dish and dissect the looks, Fashioner designer Michael Costello and style expert Rachel Zalis, contributing editor for Women's Health magazine, stopped by to discuss...
    Before the Emmy awards are even given out, it's all about the fashion. Here to dish and dissect the looks, Fashioner designer Michael Costello and style expert Rachel Zalis, contributing editor for Women's Health magazine, stopped by to discuss...
  • Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia: Kids and Cell Phone Dangers

    Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia: Kids and Cell Phone Dangers

    Monday, August 25 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-08-25 15:50:02 GMT

    There's a lot of talk about kids and cell phones, particularly the potential harm from microwave radiation. Doctor Sonu Ahluwalia is here with some of the medical topics making the news.

    There's a lot of talk about kids and cell phones, particularly the potential harm from microwave radiation. Doctor Sonu Ahluwalia is here with some of the medical topics making the news.


  • Health NewsMore>>

  • Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia: Kids and Cell Phone Dangers

    Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia: Kids and Cell Phone Dangers

    Monday, August 25 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-08-25 15:50:02 GMT

    There's a lot of talk about kids and cell phones, particularly the potential harm from microwave radiation. Doctor Sonu Ahluwalia is here with some of the medical topics making the news.

    There's a lot of talk about kids and cell phones, particularly the potential harm from microwave radiation. Doctor Sonu Ahluwalia is here with some of the medical topics making the news.


  • Julie Chang Helps Raise Awareness, Joins The LA Tumor Walk

    Julie Chang Helps Raise Awareness, Joins The LA Tumor Walk

    Thursday, August 21 2014 1:12 PM EDT2014-08-21 17:12:44 GMT
    What a difference a year makes! It was only 9 months ago that our own Julie Chang had a benign brain tumor removed. Since then, she got married and is now expecting a little one in December! To pass her blessings forward, she'll be participating in the annual LA Tumor Walk.
    What a difference a year makes! It was only 9 months ago that our own Julie Chang had a benign brain tumor removed. Since then, she got married and is now expecting a little one in December! To pass her blessings forward, she'll be participating in the annual LA Tumor Walk.
  • Sacramento Hospital Patient Being Tested For Ebola Virus

    Sacramento Hospital Patient Being Tested For Ebola Virus

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 1:10 PM EDT2014-08-20 17:10:29 GMT
    A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is being tested at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. The patient is being kept in an isolated negative pressure room while specialists work to confirm or rule out an Ebola infection.
    A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is being tested at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. The patient is being kept in an isolated negative pressure room while specialists work to confirm or rule out an Ebola infection.
Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices