NYC Votes for 21+ Tobacco Purchase Age

Young New Yorkers who want to smoke will soon have to wait for their 21st birthdays before they can buy a pack of cigarettes after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to raise the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21.

We_IDThe City Council’s vote Wednesday makes New York one of only a few places throughout the United States that have tried to stymie smoking among young people by raising the purchasing age so high. The age limit also would apply to electronic-vapor cigarettes. Merchants who sell to under-21 customers would face fines starting at $1,000. Repeat violations could cost them their cigarette-vending licenses.

Advocates say higher age limits help prevent, or at least delay, young people from taking up a habit that remains the leading cause of preventable deaths nationwide.

The council also approved setting a minimum $10.50-a-pack price for tobacco cigarettes and stepping up enforcement on illegal tobacco sales.

Mayor Bloomberg, a strong supporter of tough smoking restrictions, is expected to sign the measure. The minimum age would rise 180 days afterward. The city already prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, parks and beaches.

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