Today’s news:

It’s now 21 to buy cigs but smoking at 18 OK

City Councilman James Gennaro (second from l.) watches as Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs four bills into law, including one that raises the age restriction on cigarettes. Photo by William Alatriste/City Council
TimesLedger Newspapers

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill into law banning the sale of cigarettes to New Yorkers under 21 Tuesday.

The bill’s sponsor, City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), has long pushed for legislation that would limit the sale of cigarettes to young people.

“This legislation marks a major step forward in reducing youth smoking rates with the potential to spare thousands of New Yorkers from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and health problems,” Gennaro said. “Along with the passage and signing of legislation to enhance sensible tobacco enforcement, the City Council and the administration have once again taken the initiative to drive down the prevalence of tobacco use among young people from already historic lows.”

Although the ban will make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21, 18-year-olds will still legally be allowed to smoke.

The legislation, passed by the Council last month, will also restrict discounts on cigarettes and raise the minimum price of a pack to $10.50.

The ban will come into effect 180 days after it was signed and “will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted,” said Bloomberg at a public hearing Tuesday.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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