NYC Council gets tough on tobacco
The New York City Council voted on October 30, 2013 to approve an anti-tobacco law that will raise the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21.
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.
While many lawmakers appeared to be applauding the bills, some younger New Yorkers were not so pleased.
"You're an adult; you should be able to buy a pack of cigarettes," one New Yorker told CNN affiliate NY1. "I mean, you can think for yourself."
"I think it's ridiculous," another New Yorker said, "Let us be, let us live."
This is another step in Bloomberg's mission for healthier NYC lifestyles.
In September 2012, the Board of Health voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and other venues, a measure Bloomberg spearheaded. The ban was later repealed by a New York State Supreme Court judge.