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New York City lawmakers passed a measure Wednesday that raises the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21, from 18. The law covers cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, The New York Times reports.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will sign the law. Once it is enacted in six months, it will impose the strictest limits on tobacco purchases of any major American city, the article notes. City officials who supported the measure said the earlier people begin smoking, the more likely they are to become addicted.

The New York City Council also passed measures to increase penalties for retailers who don’t pay tobacco taxes, to ban discounts for tobacco products, and to set a minimum price of $10.50 per pack for cigarettes and little cigars.

Bloomberg decided to drop a bill that would have required stores to keep cigarettes out of sight. The bill faced fierce opposition from retail stores. The proposal was designed to discourage smoking among young people. It would have required stores to keep tobacco products in drawers, cabinets, behind a curtain, under the counter, or in other hidden areas. Shops would not have been allowed to accept cigarette coupons or honor discounts.

While the smoking age is 18 in most of the country, some states have raised it to 19. The Boston suburb of Needham raised the smoking age to 21 in 2005.


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