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New York City bans tobacco sales to those under 21

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official website] signed a piece of legislation [text] on Tuesday that makes it illegal to sell cigarettes to individuals under the age of 21. The legislation, passed by the New York City Council [official website], is intended to decrease smoking rates in New York City. Bloomberg claimed [statement] this measure "[w]ill prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted." This law also applies to e-cigarettes as well as other tobacco products. In addition, stores that sell these products are required to post signs informing customers of the new law. However, those under 21 are still legally allowed to possess tobacco. Opponents of the law claim it will simply drive teenagers to the already thriving illegal cigarette market. The law shall take effect in eight days.

Bloomberg has worked to pass several public health measures, including a ban on large sugar drinks. In July a New York appeals court upheld a lower court ruling [JURIST reports] blocking the ban. The New York City Department of Health [official website] approved Bloomberg's plan to promulgate the amended regulation last year, pursuant to which any establishment receiving a New York Health Department letter grade would be subject to a $200 fine for the sale of any sugary beverage in a container over 16 ounces. The NYDOH cited statistics connecting growing obesity and disease rates among NYC adults and children to increased portion sizes and the psychology of "thirst." Litigation over food health and safety has arisen in the past. In February 2009 the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld [JURIST report] a New York City law that requires chain restaurants to post caloric content information on their menus and menu boards in an effort to address obesity rates.

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