NYC raises age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21

Teen girl smoking. Courtesy: MGNOnline.com

Teen girl smoking. Courtesy: MGNOnline.com

NEW YORK — The New York City Council has approved a change to the minimum age required to buy cigarettes, raising it from 18 to 21 years of age.

WPIX-TV reports the vote also applies to other tobacco products and even e-cigarettes, and is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s larger fight against tobacco use in NYC.

The City Council’s decision makes New York City the first ‘major city’ in the nation to push the minimum age to 21.

Some New Yorkers say they saw the move as an overreach by an administration oft-criticized as a nanny state. Officials, however, cite statistics showing that the younger a person is when they take up smoking, the harder it is for them to quit.

There are an estimated 20,000 high school students in NYC public schools who now smoke, according to city statistics. The measure is also designed to prevent them from buying cigarettes for classmates under the age of 18.