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Smoking Age Will Increase In New York

Tobacco products will soon be banned to consumers under the age of 21.
Tobacco products will soon be banned to consumers under the age of 21. Photo Credit: Google Maps

The legal smoking age in New York is about to be raised.

The New York State Senate is expected to pass a bill on Monday that would legally raise the age to legally purchase cigarettes and e-cigarette products to 21. The approval comes following the Assembly passing the measure last month.

Once approved by the Senate, the bill will be passed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law. Once signed, the law will take effect in 120 days.

The bill states that “the key to reducing the number of smokers in New York is to stop them before they start. Raising the smoking age to 21 removes cigarettes from high schools and eliminates a popular source of tobacco from underage children.”

New York will join seven other states in raising the age to purchase tobacco, though hundreds of municipalities throughout the country have taken steps to ban teenagers from purchasing cigarettes and e-cigarettes, including several in the Hudson Valley.

According to the organization “Tobacco Free Kids,” “increasing the minimum sale age for tobacco products to 21 is a promising strategy to reduce smoking and other tobacco use among youth and save lives. Raising the sale age to 21 complements other strategies to reduce tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws that include all workplaces and public places, and well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention and cessation programs.”

A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine - now called the National Academy of Medicine - found that raising the tobacco age to 21 “will have a substantial positive impact on public health and save lives.”

The study determined that “increasing the tobacco age will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking; reduce smoking-caused deaths; and immediately improve the health of adolescents, young adults and young mothers who would be deterred from smoking, as well as their children.”

"The lifelong health effects and human misery caused by tobacco use cannot be understated and New York needs to do everything in its power to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our young people," Cuomo said last month. "That's why I made raising the age of tobacco sales to 21 one of the first proposals of my Justice Agenda and I applaud the Assembly and particularly Assembly Member Rosenthal for taking action on this very important issue today. I urge the Senate to follow suit and help make this a stronger and healthier New York for all."

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