New York City Council members voted late Wednesday evening to raise the age of those wishing to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21 — but not all are on board with the new regulation, which now goes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg for signature.
“You’re an adult, you should be able to buy a pack of cigarettes,” one New Yorker said to NY1. “I mean, you can think for yourself.”
And another: “I think it’s ridiculous. Let us be. Let us live.”
The city council’s vote means that once Mr. Bloomberg signs — and he’s widely expected to add his name to the bill — that New York City will no longer sell cigarettes and tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, to anyone younger than 21. It also bans discounts on tobacco products and increases punishments for those who try to evade tobacco-related taxes, CNN reported.
Mr. Bloomberg said the measure “will help [save] another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking,” CNN reported.
The ban goes into effect 180 days after the mayor signs it.
New York City isn’t the only city in the nation to ban sales of tobacco products for those younger than 21, but it is the largest. Needham, Mass., hiked the age to 21 eight years ago, and several other states and jurisdictions have raised the age of purchase to 19.
The New York City “Tobacco 21” initiative, as it was dubbed, is aimed at keeping teens and others “from ever starting to smoke,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, in CNN.