As part of the city's efforts to keep tobacco from young people, City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn wants to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.
Quinn announced the measure today along with health advocates and the city health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley.
They pointed to statistics that say 80 percent of adult smokers in the city started the habit before they were 21.
"Children are being bombarded with images and messages and advertising and marketing from the cigarette industry. So it's not as if everyone has retreated to their corners and said let's say nothing," Quinn said.
"People who become full-fledged adults without smoking are very unlikely to pick up the habit afterwards," said Farley. "So if we can prevent our youth from starting smoking until they are 21 we may just be able to protect an entire generation from a lifetime of being addicted to the world's most dangerous drug."
The measure follows the Bloomberg administration's plan to hide cigarettes under store counters, in cabinets or in other concealed spots.
Several states have an age limit of 19 for the purchase of cigarettes.
New York City has been banning smoking in bars, restaurants and other indoor public spaces for the past 10 years.