New York City Officials Approve Raising Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

In a victory for public health advocates, the New York City Council voted this week to approve raising the legal age that people can purchase tobacco to 21. The news was reported by CNN.

In addition to the “Tobacco 21” bill, which includes electronic cigarettes, the council also approved a second bill, “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement.” It will prohibit discounts on tobacco products and increase enforcement on vendors who attempt to evade taxes.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 30 days to sign the bills into law. Given his previous support, that is likely to happen soon.

“By increasing the smoking age to 21, we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking,” Bloomberg said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Tobacco 21” will take effect 180 days after it is enacted, according to the council’s news release.
New York City has now become the largest city to have an age limit as high as 21. Needham, Massachusetts, raised the sale age to 21 in 2005, according to the New York City Department of Health.

Neighboring states and counties have raised the tobacco sale age to 19, including New Jersey in 2005, the Department of Health said.

Raising the sales age “will protect teens and may prevent many people from ever starting to smoke,” Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley, said in a statement after the vote.

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