NYC council votes to make tobacco-buying age 21
NEW YORK (AP) -- Smokers under 21 will soon be barred from buying cigarettes in New York City.
The City Council voted Wednesday to raise the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes and electronic-vapor cigarettes from 18 to 21.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a strong supporter of the tough smoking restrictions, has 30 days to sign the bill into law.
With the vote, New York is by far the biggest U.S. city to bar cigarette sales to 19- and 20-year-olds.
The city's current age limit of 18 is a federal minimum. It's standard in many places. Some states and communities have raised the age to 19.
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. Supporters point to drinking-age laws as a precedent for setting the bar at 21.
Manufacturers have suggested young adult smokers may just turn to black-market merchants.
And some smokers say it's unfair to tell people considered mature enough to vote and serve in the military that they're not old enough to decide whether to smoke.
"Is 21 the right number? People can join the Army at 18," said Ray Story, founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.