HUNTINGTON - Suffolk lawmakers are considering a bill that would raise the age to purchase tobacco in the county from 19 to 21.

Legislator William Spencer is sponsoring the bill, which had a public hearing Tuesday. He says its purpose is not to take away rights, but to save lives.

“This is a huge public health crisis and this is something simple we can do to make a difference,” said Spencer.

Opponents of the bill, like tobacco shops and convenience stores, say the bill would hurt businesses if it passes.

The bill is heading to the health committee. If it passes, the Suffolk County Legislature will vote on the proposal later this month.

There is no plan to change the legal smoking age in Nassau County.