Pratt students steamed about smoking snub

Pratt students steamed about smoking snub
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The Council passed a bill raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 earlier this month without too much fuss, but the change has Brooklyn art students gasping.

At Clinton Hill’s Pratt Institute, where the air is as thick with cigarette smoke as it is creativity, some undergraduates are busy rolling up ways to get around a law that threatens half of the very foundation of their Camus-reading, nicotine-stained reputation.

“I will buy my packs in New Jersey and come on back and illegally smoke,” said Nicole Ryerson, a 20-year-old Prattite who will not hit her next birthday before the law goes into effect in about six months.

The tobacco toker wondered whether the measure is more of a government conspiracy than a health initiative.

“It might just be another way to get tickets and money,” Ryerson said, taking a drag.

Another artist-scholar we spoke to said it is misguided to take the musty habit out of the hands of the already-hooked.

“It’s skewed to have someone addicted to something and then cut them off from it,” said Michael, a 21-year-old student with friends who will find themselves illegal smokers soon. “I understand it’s not healthy, but that’s unfair.”

The raised purchase age requirement applies to all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, a maker of which says the change will be hard on the 18–20 set.

“Someone who is 19 years old — do you think that they’re going to just stop without an alternative to them?” asked Kevin Frija, chief executive officer of e-cig company Vapor Corp, which is pushing for its battery-powered butts to be exempt.

Not all aspiring Andy Warhols are against the tobacco ban, though.

“I always regret it,” said 20-year-old Joe Ghaida, gesturing to his lit cigarette. “I think [the ban] might prevent people getting addicted, so I’m kind of for it.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.