HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It will soon be illegal to sell tobacco products in Suffolk County to anyone under the age of 21.

As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was surrounded by schoolchildren Monday as he signed the bill into law — one of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the nation.

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“With this piece of legislation, we will save lives,” Bellone said.

The measure, which raised the buying age from 19, had the backing of Michael Seilback, vice president of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association.

“The U.S. surgeon general came out with a report in January that said if we do nothing, if we keep on doing what we’re doing up to now, 5.6 million American kids that are alive today will die from tobacco-related disease,” Seilback said.

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The new law will go into effect Jan. 1. It also bans selling e-cigarettes to anyone under 21.

Businesses that sell tobacco to customers younger than 21 face fines of $1,000 or more.

New York City passed a similar law last year, becoming the first large city or state in the country to prohibit sales to young adults.

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