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Ten years after NYC banned puffing in public, Gotham s government has launched another attack on smoking. Yesterday the City Council passed a bill raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 (from 18). The bill, which will take effect six months after Mayor Bloomberg signs it, also sets the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes at $10.50.

The law s goal is to prevent teenagers from developing dangerous habits that can last a lifetime, since recent research suggests 90 percent of smokers started before age 18. While smoking rates among New York City youth have fallen sharply throughout Bloomberg s time in office (from 17.6 percent in 2001 to 8.5 percent in 2007), the number of teens who smoke has stopped declining in recent years.

New York State residents already have the most expensive smoking habit in the nation, so it seems reasonable to assume raising the cost of cigarettes will discourage smoking among teenagers. But research on the subject is inconclusive, and it s unclear that pricier packs will have any impact on smoking rates among young New Yorkers.

Currently, New York is the first U.S. city to implement this type of legislation. Certain U.S. counties (including Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York) have already made it illegal to sell tobacco products to people under 19 or 21. But it will be interesting to see if other big cities follow New York s lead, and what kinds of consequences the law has on the college crowd in particular.

Do you think making it illegal for people under 21 to buy tobacco products will have any real impact? Weigh in below and let us know what you think of the new legislation.

Labour would make it illegal to buy cigarettes for children – health news – health & families – the independent

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Shadow ministers are stepping up pressure on the government over public health, following the u turn by the coalition over plain packaging on cigarettes.

An amendment to the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill would see anyone caught buying cigarettes or tobacco for a child fined up to 5,000. At present, selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal, but proxy purchasing of cigarettes for children is not an offence.

By contrast, buying alcohol for under 18s is illegal. Just 100 people have been prosecuted for this offence since 2007, yet Labour believes having a law on cigarettes will curb the widespread culture of proxy purchasing . Trading Standards figures show 46 per cent of underage smokers regularly get their cigarettes from a proxy purchaser . A total of 69 per cent of young people are most likely to get their cigarettes from another person.

The measures proposed by Labour would apply to England and Wales. Buying cigarettes for underage smokers is already illegal in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Executive is also looking at making it an offence.

Baroness Angela Smith will propose the amendment in the Lords on Monday. If it fails to win backing of Parliament, Labour would introduce the law change in its manifesto. The plans are supported by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, the Association of Convenience Stores and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association.

Luciana Berger, shadow public health minister, said Buying alcohol on behalf of underage children is already illegal, so it doesn t make sense not to have the same penalty for tobacco products when they kill half of all lifetime smokers. Most young smokers have their cigarettes bought for them by another person, so it s vital that we address this.

David Cameron should get behind Labour s plans and prove he is serious about protecting future generations from the dangers of smoking.