New York

Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress

8/3/2017 – Port Washington North becomes the 13th locality in the state to adopt Tobacco 21
6/1/2017 – Baxter Estates becomes the 12th locality in the state to adopt Tobacco 21
5/3/2017 – Tompkins County becomes the 11th locality in the state to adopt Tobacco 21
4/21/2017 – Sullivan County becomes the 10th city or county in state to adopt Tobacco 21
1/9/2017 – Assemble Bill 7479 introduced by Assembly-member Linda Rosenthal. The bill would prohibit using electronic cigarettes in certain places, increase the age of all tobacco products from 18 to 21, & directs the department of health to evaluate the health effects of electronic cigarettes on members of the public.
1/5/2017 – Assembly Bill 273 introduced by Assembly-member Linda Rosenthal along with 24 other co-sponsors. The bill would raise the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 statewide
12/22/2016 – Orange County becomes 9th city or county in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance
11/17/2016 – North Hempstead becomes 8th city or county in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance
9/15/2016 – Cattaraugus County becomes 7th city or county in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance
8/9/2016 – Schenectady County becomes 6th city or county in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance
7/5/2016 – Cortland County becomes 5th municipality in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance
6/8/2016 – Albany County becomes 4th Municipality in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance
4/27/2016 – Chautauqua County becomes 3rd municipality in state to enact Tobacco 21 ordinance

New York is another state that has made significant progress in tobacco prevention. In November of 2013 New York City enacted legislation that raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21, and also set a minimum price of $10.50 per pack of cigarettes, among other provisions:

New York City Bill Raising Tobacco Age To 21

Championed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the law was an unprecedented and exemplary move by such a large city. It went into effect in 2014, and shortly after Suffolk County, NY also raised their tobacco and nicotine age to 21. The nation immediately took notice, and since Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Boston have also enacted Tobacco 21 ordinances. In 2016, 7 additional New York localities raised their tobacco sales age to 21. The state also has the highest per pack tax in the nation, at $4.35, which likely also contributes to their well below national average rate of high school smoking, and representative national average rate of adult smoking.

Unfortunately, the state only spends 20.9% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention. An estimated 280,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die early due to smoking, with 10,600 children becoming daily smokers each year. The result is an annual health care cost of $10.39 billion that is directly caused by smoking, and an additional $7.33 billion in lost productivity. New York City’s and Suffolk County’s new laws will of course positively impact these numbers, and hopefully will influence other cities and states to follow their lead in raising the sales age of tobacco to 21.

There is no preemption language present in state law keeping localities from raising the Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) to 21. Local governments are free to enact ordinances to better protect their kids from addiction. It has been our experience that the most powerful incentive for the state legislature to act is the initiative of local citizens and governmental leaders. Statewide, California and Hawaii’s laws both began at the local level where powerful tobacco industry lobbyists have little sway. We encourage you to talk to your local city council person, county council member or board of health leader. Local champions have largely driven this movement in non-preempted states. Your voice is more influential than you think. Constituents are an impetus for change at the community and statewide levels. Garner interest around Tobacco 21 at the local and state level by communicating with your local legislators through phone calls, emails, and testimony at local government meetings.

For more information, you may contact:

Rob Crane, MD
Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation

Karen Blumenfeld
Executive Director
Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP)

Kevin Schroth
NYC Department of Health

Kevin O’Flaherty
Played a direct role in shaping NYC’s historic T21 legislation.
Director Northeastern Region
Tobacco Free Kids

or visit our sources:

Tobacco Free Kids New York: “The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.”

American Lung Association State Report Card: “The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.”

SLATI State Information New York: “SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.”

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

1) Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
2) Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
3) Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
4) Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products

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