Neighboring Tompkins County may also raise tobacco purchase age to 21

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — The county is seeking public input about a proposed local law that would raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 in Tompkins County.

Tompkins County Legislature voted to set a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. April 18 at County Legislature Chambers in the Governor Daniel D. Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court Street (Second Floor), Ithaca.

The topic has been debated among legislators, and the vote to hold the public hearing at all was not unanimous. Legislators Mike Sigler, Carol Chock, Will Burbank and Peter Stein voted no.

Related: Cortland County raises legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21

The purpose of the local law is to reduce the number of people of all ages who use tobacco. Studies have shown that raising the minimum legal purchasing to 21 does lower the number of people who start smoking.

The public hearing resolution states, "Tompkins County has a substantial interest in reducing the number of individuals of all ages who use cigarettes and other tobacco products, and a particular interest in protecting adolescents from tobacco dependence and the illnesses and premature death associated with tobacco use."

On the other hand, some have argued that raising the age to 21 is government overreach when people who are 18 are adults that can vote, serve in the military and make major financial decisions.