NEW YORK (AP) — Smoking may be a bad habit — but New York City lawmakers want their residents to be older and wiser before deciding to take it up.
The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to raise the age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21, a move that would make the nation’s most populous city among only a handful in the United States to target young smokers by barring them from buying smokes. It also approved a bill that sets a minimum $10.50-a-pack price for tobacco cigarettes and steps up law enforcement on illegal tobacco sales.
“This will literally save many, many lives,” said an emotional City Councilman James Gennaro, the bill’s sponsor, whose mother and father died from tobacco-related illnesses. “I’ve lived with it, I’ve seen it … but I feel good today.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a strong supporter of the tough smoking restrictions, has 30 days to sign the bills into law. The minimum age bill will take effect 180 days after enactment.