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NY Law Raising Legal Age To Purchase Tobacco Products Takes Effect

The new law raising the age to purchase tobacco products has taken effect.
The new law raising the age to purchase tobacco products has taken effect. Photo Credit: Flickr FriedDough

Older teenagers in New York will officially no longer be able to purchase tobacco or e-cigarette products.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law on Tuesday, July 16 that raises the minimum sales age for tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21. The law took effect after 120 days, on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

"New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people," Cuomo said.

"By raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, we can stop cigarettes and e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of young people in the first place and prevent an entire generation of New Yorkers from forming costly and potentially deadly addictions.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added, "tobacco use is harmful to New Yorkers and leads to cancer, major health problems, and death. Raising the age of purchase to 21 will help ensure fewer children start this deadly habit. I applaud Senator Diane Savino for sponsoring this legislation and working to help save New Yorkers from lifetimes of addiction and health problems."

A spokesperson for JUUL, a popular e-cigarette company, said that their company is "committed to preventing youth access of their vapor products. He said the company was in support of raising the age to 21 for consumers.

”We are committed to preventing youth access of JUUL products, and no young person or non-nicotine user should ever try JUUL. We cannot fulfill our mission to provide the world’s one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes if youth use continues unabated.

According to the Truth Initiative, in 2017, 7.9 percent of high school students in Connecticut smoked on at least once every 30 days, down from the national rate of 8.8 percent. In 2015, 7.2 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, 2.8 percent used smokeless tobacco and 4.5 percent smoked cigars.

"Big tobacco and its vaping industry cronies build their business by hooking young people on nicotine. Raising the statewide smoking and vaping age to 21 years old will help prevent a new generation of young people from getting hooked on nicotine,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal added. “It will also ensure that young people cannot just travel to another county to purchase dangerous and highly addictive cigarettes or e-cigarettes.”

It is estimated that approximately 14.7 percent of high school students reported that they currently vape as of 2017, compared to just 7.2 percent in 2015.

According to the Surgeon General, 88% of adult smokers started using tobacco before age 18 and 90 percent of the people who purchase cigarettes for minors are between the ages of 18 and 20. By raising the legal purchase age to 21, this legislation will help prevent underage children from obtaining tobacco products from their friends, reducing the likelihood young adults ever start smoking and become addicted, and ultimately save thousands of lives.

“Although the use of combustible cigarettes has dropped significantly, high school youth are vaping more and are still being exposed to tobacco messaging, advertising and secondhand smoke,” health officials noted. “Although some preliminary studies have indicated that Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (e-cigarettes) may be safer than combustible cigarettes, the Surgeon General has concluded that nicotine poses a danger to youth, and its use in any form by youth is unsafe.”

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