New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seated, is joined by...

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seated, is joined by his cabinet members, New York City Council members, anti-smoking advocates and others, as he signs landmark legislation banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21, making the Big Apple the first large city and New York the first state in the country to prohibit sales to young adults. (Nov. 19, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesdaysigned a law outlawing the sale of cigarettes to people younger than 21.

Increasing the age on cigarette purchases, he said, "will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted."

Bloomberg has crusaded against cigarettes throughout his 12 years in office, first banning smoking in bars and restaurants. The city also extended the smoking prohibition to parks and beaches. The new law also includes electronic cigarettes.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said New York is the first major city to increase the smoking age and hopes others will follow.

"This legislation marks a major step forward in reducing youth smoking rates with the potential to spare thousands of New Yorkers from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and health problems," she said in a joint statement with Queens Councilman James Gennaro.

Bloomberg also signed legislation that aims to curb cigarette-tax evasion by letting the city Department of Finance lock up stores of repeat offenders and bans the use of coupons for cigarette purchases.

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