How is the 19 smoking age in Nassau and Suffolk Counties constitutional?

New York State has an 18 smoking age in every county except Nassau and Suffolk, how is it constitutional for two counties to increase the smoking age? I do not believe it is, and I wish to file a lawsuit against both counties. How would I go about proving that it is unconstitutional? What would be my cause of action? Age discrimination against adults, the supremacy of state law over local law or something else? Please post your reply supported by either case or actual law. Thank you

P.S. I know smoking is harmful, if you are going to post about how harmful it is, save it, if you are going to post about how it allows high school students more access to tobacco, save it. I am 24 and am not interested in buying tobacco for anyone under the age of 18. I just believe it is a violation of ones personal rights to not be able to purchase a product designated for sale to all adults.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    You would be very unlikely to succeed in any action to change the local laws of those two counties on this matter.

    Smoking ages are regulated at the state level. No provision of the United States Constitution requires states to allow anyone to smoke. Most jurisdictions set the smoking age to at least 18 so as to qualify for certain federal funds.

    Age discrimination is generally handled under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which only covers employment situations, and would be useless to you here. The closest thing I can imagine to a cause of action that would exist would be violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. You would not be able to bring the suit yourself because you would not have standing because, as a 24 year old, these laws don't affect you. What would have to happen would be an eighteen year old would have to try to buy cigarettes in one of those counties and they would have to sue for violation of their rights under the equal protection clause.

    Such an action would be highly unlikely to succeed. When judging whether a governmental entity, in this case, Nassau County and Suffolk County, are violating someone's right to equal protection under the law, the court will apply what is called the "rational basis test" to the governmental action. See United States v. Carolene Products Co. for the case itself. Basically, this means that if the county governments are able to show that there is any rational basis for the age discrimination here (which they probably would on public health grounds), the plaintiff would lose the case. Equal protection gets much stronger when you're dealing with racial discrimination or sex discrimination, which are not taking place here.

    The fact that the counties have laws stricter than the state's is irrelevant. New York's state statutes do not set a maximum smoking age for local governments. Article IX Section 2(c)(10) of the state constitution gives local governments the power to regulate the health of the community, which would be the basis for allowing the counties to have smoking regulations like this.

    The fact that you personally believe that this regulation is a violation of one's rights is irrelevant. A constitutional right to smoke at the age of 18 simply does not exist. Period. I'm not saying that the law on this is right or good, only that you are very unlikely to succeed in getting this changed through litigation. Your best bet would be to petition the county governments to change the smoking age back to 18.

    If you think I'm wrong or don't believe me, ask a local attorney about taking this case. They will almost certainly tell you the same thing.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You have no "cause for action", and are a fool if you think Counties imposing local laws cannot do so because it "violates the Constitution"!

    I do encourage you to try though, life in the County Courthouse can sometimes be VERY dull, and I believe someone attempting to bring such a suit would cheer everyone that works there right up!

    Source(s): BTW...your name is SO fitting!
  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Same way th 21 year old drinking age is legal. The Federal and State governments only impose a minimum age which local areas can't go under. If they wanted they can make it a 45 yr age limit to buy cigarettes if they wanted and it was put to a public vote.

  • 4 years ago

    It relies upon. Are you 19? If no longer, the broking could be breaking the regulation. One could presume maximum dealers are actually not criminals, yet you may hit upon a criminal who will sell you cigars. yet once you do business enterprise with a criminal you often finally end up against the regulation sufferer. Why do no longer you get some astonishing bubble gum cigars?

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