New York raises legal age to buy tobacco, e-cigarettes

New York raises legal age to buy tobacco, e-cigarettes

New York is raising the legal age to purchase tobacco and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the bill Tuesday, and the law will go into effect in November, 120 days after the signing. 

Cuomo said the bill aims to prevent young people from taking up smoking, as "irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns" target the youth.

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"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 release. 

Cuomo announced a plan to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in January, citing data showing that tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the state and that an increasing number of underage youth are using traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. 

The Democratic-controlled state Senate passed the bill in April, a month after the Democratic-controlled state Assembly passed it, the Democrat & Chronicle reported

E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product by youth in New York, and the rate of e-cigarette use by youth doubled between 2014 and 2016, according to the New York State Department of Health

The New York State Department of Health also says about 35,000 high school students smoke, starting at an average age of 13. 

Sixteen other states and Washington, D.C., have increased the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21, according to the nonprofit organization Tobacco-Free Kids.