NBC 4 New York
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is proposing a minimum age of 21 to buy cigarettes. Public health advocates say a higher minimum age discourages, or at least delays, young people from starting smoking and thereby limits their health risks. Melissa Russo reports.
Two New Jersey lawmakers are pushing to make it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase cigarettes, joining efforts in nearby New York City.
State Sen. Richard Codey and Assemblyman Ruben Ramos were appearing at New York's City Hall Thursday with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who recently announced her own intention to raise the smoking age in New York.
The New Jersey legislation would raise the age from 19 to 21 statewide.
“Anything we can do to prevent someone from becoming a new smoker and avoid smoking's harmful effects on them and society is a step in the right direction,” Codey said in a statement. “For laws such as this where it would be so easy to cross state lines to purchase tobacco, neighboring states need to work together and that is what we are doing today.”
The City Council says the city legislation, which would raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, will go for a vote by the end of the summer.
Officials cited a 2010 New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey that said 14 percent of New Jersey high school students smoke, and of those smokers, 5 percent reported smoking on a regular basis.