Following New York City's lead, state lawmakers have taken up the cause to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 statewide.

State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal announced the legislation at a press conference in New York on Sunday. The bill was introduced on Friday. If passed, New York would become the first state to hike the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21. Four states and some communities have raised the age to 19, and at least two towns have agreed to raise it to 21. Savino said ``anything we can do to stop young people from starting is a step in the right direction.'' A hearing on the city's proposal to hike the minimum age to 21 is set for May 2.