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Great Neck Plaza to raise legal age to buy tobacco to 21

A sign noting the age for buying tobacco

A sign noting the age for buying tobacco products displayed at a Mobil gas station in Roslyn on Nov. 17, 2016. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Great Neck Plaza has succeeded after several attempts in raising its tobacco purchasing age from 19 to 21, effective in September.

Village trustees said the legislation was inspired by the Town of North Hempstead, which passed a similar ordinance in February.

“It’s a good thing if we can prevent people from starting,” Mayor Jean Celender said Wednesday after the law passed 3-0. “The effects of smoking are a well-known fact. It’s not a healthy thing to do.”

Trustees Lawrence Katz and Pamela Marksheid were on vacation and missed Wednesday’s vote.

The vote marked the fourth time the village considered raising the age. During the second attempt in May, Celender instructed village attorney Richard Gabriele to find out whether the village’s measure would impede on town or Nassau County law.

“We had concerns about whether the village had the authority to do this, which has now been determined that we do,” Celender said.

The law takes effect Sept. 1. Gabriele said that gives local businesses more time to buy and post new signs that announce no tobacco sales to people under 21.

Gabriele suggested the village “devise some kind of outreach program” to explain the new law requirements to cigarette vendors.

Celender noted that Great Neck Plaza has a Long Island Rail Road station that sells cigarettes. Even though that property belongs to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gabriele said he believes the law applies to that booth as well.

Gabriele did not return phone calls Thursday seeking more clarification about the LIRR station.

Municipalities across Long Island have passed similar laws raising the purchase age, including the Town of Hempstead and the village of Baxter Estates.

State legislators attempted to pass a bill that would raise the state tobacco purchasing age from 19 to 21. However, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) and Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), never made it to the Assembly floor for a full vote.

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