NEW YORK CITY - New York City voted Wednesday to ban the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco to anyone under the age of 21, raising the previous threshold of 18.
Having pioneered years of stringent anti-smoking laws, the city of 8.5 million becomes the largest metropolis to raise the age limit for buying cigarettes so high.
The US federal age requirement for buying cigarettes is 18, which some states previously raised to 19 and in some, smaller communities to 21.
A spokeswoman for New York City council said the proposal was approved by 35 votes to 10.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has to sign the resolution into law, immediately welcomed what he called a key step towards preventing young people from lighting up.
"Tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking so it's critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start.
"By increasing the smoking age to 21 we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking."
His administration believes raising the legal age for buying cigarettes will reduce the number of smokers aged 18-20 by as much as 55 per cent.
City hall says that from 2002 to 2011, the percentage of adults who smoke fell from 21.5 to 14.8 per cent.
But while the number of public high school student smokers fell more than half between 2001 and 2011, the decline in youth smoking has stalled at 8.5 per cent.