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City Council Holds Hearing On Series Of Tough Anti-Smoking Measures

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Health officials and anti-smoking advocates rallied in support of three measures to crack down on cigarette sales currently under consideration by the City Council.

The bills before the City Council would reduce the visibility and accessibility of cigarettes. The council's health committee took up debate Thursday on the proposals.

The most talked about measure would raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the proposals would save lives.

"Preventing young people from smoking is critical. We know that 80 percent of New York City adult smokers started smoking regularly before reaching the age of 21," Farley told reporters including WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

City Council Holds Hearing On Series Of Tough Anti-Smoking Measures

Marie Wilkins of the Bronx has been featured in some of the city's graphic anti-smoking ads.

"There's no way that I would have known that at 42, they was going to amputate my leg. It's just a chance you take. Maybe it'll make them stop and think before they light up that cigarette," Wilkins told Diamond.

"I don't feel that it's the right thing to do. Cigarettes, they just destroy your body," Dante Natale, 14, whose aunt suffers from lung cancer, told Diamond.

Another proposal would require stores to keep their stock of cigarettes hidden from public view except when making a sale.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said while he supports the intent of the measure, he thinks enforcement could get tricky.

"I do have a problem with owners in good faith trying to comply and not having a big enough curtain or another employee leaving it open or something along those lines," Queens City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said.

Queens Councilman James Gennaro added small business owners are concerned about the pending legislation. He said New York City businesses near locations outside the city's jurisdiction could lose business under the measures.

First time offenders of the 'hide the cigs' proposal would face $1,000 fines, Diamond reported.

The third proposal would crack down on tobacco price discounts.

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