A Nassau County legislator is proposing a series of anti-smoking bills -- including raising the age to purchase cigarettes and tobacco products to 21 -- to bring the county in line with recent initiatives approved or under discussion in New York City and Suffolk.
Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) on Friday filed three resolutions for consideration by Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).
Besides raising the purchase age, Jacobs' bills also seek to ban smoking in county parks and within 20 feet of county buildings, and in vehicles occupied by minors.
New York City passed its law raising the purchase age of tobacco products and cigarettes to 21 in October; Suffolk County is holding hearings on a bill to do the same.
The minimum age to purchase tobacco products now is 19 in both counties.
"We certainly don't want to be known as the oasis of smoking," Jacobs said of Nassau. "I'm hoping the majority will agree with me."
Cristina Brennan, a spokeswoman for the majority Republicans, said Jacobs' bills are under review, and that a decision on whether to place them on an agenda is pending.
During the recent hearings on Suffolk's proposal to raise its purchase to 21, supporters testified that smoking among high school students is beginning to rise again after a long period of decline.
They cited the rise of popular, tobacco-free electronic cigarettes, which health advocates see as a gateway to real cigarettes.
But Suffolk's bill is under heavy opposition from convenience store owners, who said it would drive young adults to Nassau.
"It hurts business, no question about it," Kevin Beyer, head of the 900-member Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said yesterday.
"These bills don't meet the intent. You're just pushing the business to the black market."