Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York's law raising the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products is in effect beginning November 13, 2019.
The law was signed by Governor Cuomo in the month of July, 2019 and will apply to both the sales of traditional tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.
The law raises the legal age for purchasing these products from 18 to 21, building on the Governor's efforts to combat health threats from tobacco and e-cigarette products.
"The goal of this law is simple - to prevent cigarettes and vaping products from getting into the hands of our youth, creating an addiction to a deadly habit," Governor Cuomo said. "We are taking aggressive action to make sure the decades of progress we've made to combat tobacco addiction is not undone by a sharp rise in e-cigarette use among younger New Yorkers."
According to Department of Health data, nearly 40 percent of 12th grade students and 27 percent of high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes.
High school use in 2018 (27.4%) is 160 percent higher than it was in 2014 (10.5%). Studies show nearly 78 percent of high school students, and 75 percent of middle school students report being exposed to pro-tobacco marketing in 2016.
To further crack down on retailers selling tobacco and vaping products to underage youth, State Police is partnering with the Department of Health to conduct undercover investigations across the state under The Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act, which enlists underage youth to attempt to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products. As of November 1, over 1,700 inspections have occurred since July outside of New York City focusing on youth 18 years and under.
Retailers found selling tobacco and vaping products to underage individuals will face criminal penalties in addition to civil penalties.
Because tobacco use persists among youth and adults, New York State continues to prevent young adults from starting smoking. According to the Surgeon General, 88 percent of adult smokers started using tobacco before the age of 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.