Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed into law Monday a historic bill that makes Suffolk the first municipality in the country to raise the age limit to 21 for tobacco purchases.
The new age restriction — which goes into effect Jan. 1 — includes sales for e-cigarettes, rolling papers and pipes.
“Rarely do you get the opportunity to sign legislation that will literally save lives,” Mr. Bellone in a press release. “The public health and safety impacts of this bill are undeniable. I am excited that Suffolk County is pioneering these restrictions for the health of our young people.”
Suffolk County health commissioner James Tomarken said: “Given that 85 percent of adults who smoke started when they were 21 or younger, it makes sense to ban sales of tobacco to those under 21.
“This is in the best interest of public health.”
Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport), a doctor himself, sponsored the measure, which in the weeks leading up to the Legislature’s vote saw both support and opposition from county residents — including at the two-and-a-half hour long public hearing Feb. 11.
“Keeping tobacco products, and the unregulated e-cigarette merchandise, out of the hands of our teenagers will undoubtedly save lives,” Dr. Spencer said. ”This is a great day for Suffolk County residents.”