ALBANY – The age to buy tobacco products in New York State will soon be going up.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week the minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarette products in the state will go from 18 to 21 on Wednesday, November 13.
Cuomo says the law builds on his comprehensive effort 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 the State Department of Health, nearly 40 percent of 12th grade students and 27 percent of high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes, and this increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids.
Officials said high school use in 2018 is 160 percent higher than it was in 2014.
While New York’s high school student smoking rate dropped from 27.1% in 2000 to a record low of 4.3% in 2016, aggressive marketing promoting flavored e-cigarettes stands to turn that trend.
To further crack down on retailers selling tobacco and vaping products to underage youth, New York State Police say they are 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 now face criminal penalties in addition to civil penalties.
In 2016, Chautauqua County raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.