New York to raise cigarette sale age

Cigarettes on a New York newsstand The bill's supporters say a higher age limit stops young people developing smoking habits

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New York City Council has voted to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21.

New York will now become by far the most populous place in the US to impose such a high age limit, the Associated Press reports.

The new age limit includes electronic vapour cigarettes.

Across the US there is a minimum age for smoking of 18. Some states have raised the limit to 19 and at least two other towns have raised it to 21.

The bill's sponsor, City Councilman James Gennaro, said it would "literally save many, many lives".

Mr Gennaro, whose mother and father died from tobacco-related illnesses, said: "I've lived with it, I've seen it... but I feel good today."

Critics of the measure have argued that young people may turn to the black market for cigarettes.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supported the bill, has 30 days to sign it into law. The measure would then come into effect after 180 days.

"We know that tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking so it's critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start," Mr Bloomberg said in a statement.

A plan by Mr Bloomberg to make shops keep cigarettes out of public view was shelved earlier this year.

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