New York Raises Tobacco Buying Age

Becomes the 17th state to go from 18 to 21
Photograph: Shutterstock

ALBANY, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic-cigarette products from 18 to 21, making New York state the 17th to do so and the 10th to pass the measure this year.

The bill will go into effect May 13, 2020, but unlike other similar state laws, it has no exceptions for military personnel or additional signage requirements, according to the bill, which only refers to raising the minimum tobacco buying age.

“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. “New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people.”

“Tobacco use is harmful to New Yorkers and leads to cancer, major health problems and death,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D). “Raising the age of purchase to 21 will help ensure fewer children start this deadly habit.”

In 2019, 11 states raised the legal age to purchase tobacco and nicotine vapor products, bringing to 17 the number of states that have gone from the federal minimum of 18 to 21. Nebraska raised its minimum age this year, but only to 19. In addition to the 10 states that raised the tobacco-buying age to 21 this year, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Utah did so prior to 2019.

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