New York Raises Legal Age for Purchasing Tobacco and E-Cigarettes to 21

Mairead McArdle

New York has raised the legal age to 21 for purchases of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, the latest step in the state’s efforts to curb youth smoking.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed the bill, which raises the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21 in an attempt to combat “irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns” targeted at teenagers and young adults.

“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The legislation targets purchasers between 18 and 20 years old, who account for 90 percent of those purchasing cigarettes for minors, according to the surgeon general. The inclusion of e-cigarette products popular with teenagers also aims to combat youth smoking.

Cuomo announced his plan to raise the smoking age in January, calling it a “very real public health crisis” and noting that in the past four years, youth use of e-cigarettes has spiked. The New York Assembly passed the measure in March, and the Senate followed suit in April.

New York City, Long Island, Albany, and several New York counties had already passed laws raising the smoking age within their borders.

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