A new law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old has been kicking around the City Council for more than three years, but most New York City residents didn’t hear about it until yesterday, when the legislative body gave its seal of approval.
If Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs the bill, as he’s expected to do, smokers younger than 21 years old will be banned from purchasing tobacco products in New York City. It’s among the highest age limits in the nation.
The bill passed 35-10, and includes e-cigarettes.
When the new law takes effect, shops found selling to people under age will face a $1,000 fine. On second offense, fines go up to $2,000, and the store may have its license revoked if additional offenses are committed within a three-year period.
Of the 10 Council members opposed to the new law, all were representatives from boroughs outside of Manhattan, and five were from Brooklyn.
With the exception of Charles Barron, who represents East New York, all of the Brooklyn opponents hailed from Southern Brooklyn.
Here’s how they voted:
- Vincent Gentile (Bay Ridge – Bensonhurst): Against
- David Greenfield (Bensonhurst – Borough Park): For
- Jumaane Williams (Midwood – Flatbush): Against
- Lew Fidler (Marine Park – Canarsie): Absent
- Domenic Recchia (Coney Island – Gravesend): Against
- Michael Nelson (Sheepshead Bay – Brighton Beach): Against
Although Fidler was absent for health reasons, we believe he would have voted against the age increase. Fidler previously opposed expanding the smoking ban to beaches and parks, as well as banning flavored tobacco products.
That means David Greenfield is the only Southern Brooklyn Council member to support the bill, and had Fidler voted (the way we think he would have), more than half the opposition would have hailed from our end of the borough.
Do Southern Brooklyn residents love smoking more than the rest of New York City? You tell us.