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Community Leaders, Others Call On Nassau County To Raise Age On Sale Of Tobacco Products

Legislator Carrie Solages and community leaders in front of a convenience store in Elmont (Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Legislator Carrie Solages and community leaders in front of a convenience store in Elmont (Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some community and Democratic leaders on Long Island are calling on Nassau County to quickly join New York City and Suffolk County in raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21.

New York City became the first large city in the country to ban sales of tobacco products to young adults when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the bill last November.

If sellers violate the New York City law by selling to people under 21, they could be fined up to $1,000 for each violation found in a single day and up to $2,000 for a second violation. Retailers could also lose their license to sell tobacco products.

The measure applies to cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos and prohibits the sale of small cigars in packages of less than 20. It also includes electronic cigarettes.

Last month, Suffolk County lawmakers also voted to raise the age for tobacco sales to 21.

With the new rules in New York City and Suffolk going into effect, many in border communities are worried young smokers will flock to Nassau County.

Democratic legislator Carrie Solages is blasting Republicans for blocking legislation to raise the age limit.

“Our community will be flooded with young people purchasing these products,” Solages said. “We don’t want to be a haven for young people looking to buy cigarettes.”

Community leader Maureen Natali just wants the legislation brought to the table.

“As a registered independent I don’t see this as a political issue at all,” she said. “I see this totally as a health issue.”

But some retailers who sell cigarettes say age restrictions will hurt business and are fighting the bill.

New York City’s new smoking age goes into effect in May of this year. Suffolk’s new smoking age will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

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