If you are under 21 and living in New York City, it may soon be illegal to purchase cigarettes. But will this new move keep kids from smoking?

New York City officials announced yesterday their intentions to seek a ban on sales of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21. The new legislation is the city's latest effort to curb smoking and specifically to reduce smoking among this age group, which is when most smokers get started.

The legislation introduced April 22 by the city council with the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would make New York City the first big city or state to ban cigarette sales to minors under age 21. The current age to purchase cigarettes in New York — and most states — is 18. But health experts say that eight in 10 adult smokers in the city started smoking regularly when they younger than 21, and most smokers who are under age 18 currently get their cigarettes from individuals who are just a few years older.

New York City already has the highest cigarette taxes in the nation with a state tax of $4.35 per pack and a city tax of $1.50. According to city officials, these taxes contributed to a 15-point drop in young smokers from 1999 to 2007. But over the last six years, the number of teen smokers has refused to budge — holding steady at about 8.5 percent.  

"Too many adult smokers begin this deadly habit before age 21," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "By delaying our city's children and young adults' access to lethal tobacco products, we're decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking, and thus, creating a healthier city."

If this new legislation passes, do you think it will help curb the number of teen smokers in NYC? Would you like to see similar legislation introduced in your city?

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