NYC Banning Under-21 Tobacco Sales

It's the first big city to ban

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Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

A woman smoking an e-cigarette

New York is about to become the first large city to ban tobacco sales for people under the age of 21.

Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to sign the legislation Tuesday, after City Council approved it last month, the Associated Press reports.

Although possession of tobacco will remain legal, Bloomberg and city health officials believe that increasing the purchasing age will make it harder for youth to pick up the habit. It’s the latest of many public health initiatives that have helped define Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, including outlawing smoking in bars and restaurants, mandating that many restaurants post calorie counts on their menus, and a failed effort to ban the sale of large-sized sodas.

“Right now, an 18-year-old can buy for a 16-year-old,” City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. “[They now] have to find someone in college or out of the workforce.”

According to the CDC, smoking causes more than 440,000 deaths annually.