Today’s papers are focusing on an announcement made by the New York City Government about plans to increase the age at which you can buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. As a non-smoker, this sounds good to me. Any disincentive to smokers has to be a good thing. I have been surprised at how little smoking you see in New York. In London you would see gaggles of people outside buildings, puffing away during office hours. The smoking ban in pubs and restaurants back in 2007 made a huge difference to anyone who hated coming home stinking of cigarettes. It was a relief not to have to air my clothes on the radiators after a night in the pub. Here, you aren’t allowed to smoke in parks, beaches (not many of those in New York City!) plazas and other public places. The argument here against raising the age for buying cigarettes is all about liberty: the freedom to buy cigarettes when you are old enough to fight for your country, you’re old enough to decide whether it’s a good thing to smoke. On a more political front, the New York Times observed that the announcement made here on Monday about these proposals was fronted by Dr Thomas A Farley (they are big on using the middle initial here) who is the city’s health commissioner and Speaker Christine Quinn. Previously anything health related would have been announced by Mayor Bloomberg. The Times speculates that this is him passing the mantle to Quinn, in her bid to be Mayor. Whatever the truth, the New York Post has the best headlines as ever: “The Cig is Up. Quinn Bill to hike cigarette age to 21”.