New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill this week that raises the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The law will take effect in May 2014.
The law also creates penalties for evading cigarette taxes, bans discounts on cigarette sales, requires inexpensive cigars to be sold in packages of no fewer than four, and sets a minimum price of $10.50 for packs of cigarettes and little cigars, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco “will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a news release.
He noted at the signing ceremony, “People always try to put things like selling cigarettes in the context of jobs and whether or not it helps or hurts stores. I think that is just so outrageously misplaced. This is an issue of whether we’re going to kill people. This century a billion people will die from smoking around the world. And we don’t want any of the people to die to be New Yorkers.”
The rate of teenage smoking in New York City is 8.5 percent. About 80 percent of all smokers started before they were 21.