NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he'd sign a bill adopted by the city council raising the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
The council passed the bill 35-10 Wednesday and it is scheduled to go into effect six months after Bloomberg signs it, The New York Times reported.
Critics of the proposal said New Yorkers under the age of 21 are allowed to drive, vote and join the military so they should have the freedom to purchase cigarettes. Bloomberg's administration said the law would discourage people from becoming addicted to smoking.
"This is literally legislation that will save lives," Christine C. Quinn, the council speaker, said.
The youth smoking rate in the city has declined by more than half since Bloomberg took office, from 17.6 percent in 2001 to 8.5 percent in 2007, the Times said. That decline has recently stalled.