New York's city council has voted to hike the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he'll sign the bill. It will make New York the only major US city to approve such a measure, the New York Times notes, though some states and counties have set the age at 19; towns such as Needham, Mass., also require buyers to be 21, NBC New York points out. "This is literally legislation that will save lives," says council speaker Christine Quinn. The measure includes e-cigarettes, Bloomberg notes.
The bill, which passed 35 to 10, wasn't without its share of controversy. Officials hold that 80% of the city's smokers started before they were 21; they also note that a drop in city youth smoking from 17.6% in 2001 to 8.5% in 2007 has apparently flatlined. The measure's opponents, however, say that if you're old enough to enlist and to drive, you're old enough to make up your own mind about smoking, the Times notes. New Jersey and Hawaii are mulling comparable measures, the AP reports. (Read more cigarettes stories.)