New York City limits tobacco sales to 21 and older

NEW YORK – Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed landmark legislation Tuesday banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, making New York the first large city or state in the country to prohibit sales to young adults.

During a brief ceremony at City Hall, Bloomberg said raising the legal purchase age from 18 to 21 will help prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco at the age when they are most likely to become addicted. City health officials say 80 percent of smokers start before age 21.

The mayor, a former smoker, also signed legislation setting a minimum price for all cigarettes sold in the city: $10.50 per pack.

The ban does have limitations. People under age 21 can still possess tobacco legally, they just can’t buy it. Underage smokers will still be able to steal cigarettes from their parents, bum them from friends, stock up during trips beyond city limits or buy them from the black-market dealers common in many neighborhoods.

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