NEW YORK — New York City Council voted on Wednesday to hike the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 18 years to 21 years.
The bill also increases the minimum purchasing age to 21 years for certain tobacco products and electronic-vapor smokes, according to published reports. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 30 days to sign the bills into law and the minimum age bill will take effect 180 days after enactment.
“Between 2001 and 2011, New York City cut the proportion of public high school students who smoke by more than half. However, the decline in youth smoking in our city has stalled. We know that tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking so it’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start. By increasing the smoking age to 21 years we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking,” Bloomberg said.
According to health officials, more than 80% of the adult smokers in New York City began smoking before the age of 21 years. So, the new restrictions could protect teens and prevent many from ever starting to smoke.