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Rhode Island teen-agers will have to wait until they're 18 years old before they can buy Bidis, flavored, unfiltered cigarettes critics say lure kids into smoking, after state Gov. Lincoln Almond signed a bill banning possession of the products into law.
The measure had been pushed by Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty. The new law is effective immediately. It also raises the age of possessing tobacco products to 18 from 16 years, making it consistent with state law for purchasing tobacco products, the Associated Press reported.
Fogarty said studies show that more than 5,000 Rhode Islanders under 18 become new smokers each year, with many of them first introduced to the habit through Bidi cigarettes. Bidis come in a variety of flavors, including vanilla and cinnamon.
"This law is aimed at stopping young people who are particularly susceptible to becoming hooked on this drug from gaining access to tobacco," Fogarty said in a statement.
Smokers will see a 29-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax to help pay for this year's state budget, approved by lawmakers late last month, the report said.