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New York City Plans to Raise Age for Tobacco Purchases to 21

– New York City plans to raise the age to buy cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products to 21 from 18, making it the first major U.S. city to lift the minimum age above 19, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

The city council move complements efforts by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to lower smoking rates. Last month, Bloomberg proposed requiring stores to hide tobacco products. The mayor has worked with council to raise tobacco taxes and ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

“Too many adult smokers begin this deadly habit before age 21,” Quinn said in a release. “By delaying our city’s children and young adults access to lethal tobacco products, we’re decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking, and thus, creating a healthier city.”

Twenty-thousand public high-school students smoke in New York, and the youth smoking rate has remained flat at 8.5 percent since 2007, Quinn said. By one estimate, raising the threshold to 21 could reduce smoking among 18-to-20-year-olds by as much as 55 percent, Quinn said.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

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