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Ulster County raises minimum age for buying tobacco to 21

Ulster County joins counties across the state including Orange, Westchester, Albany and New York City that have already raised the minimum age of purchase.

“It will help prevent many people from ever experiencing the severe health impacts of smoking in the future by making it more difficult to start,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.

Among the law’s requirements:

No one can sell tobacco products or smoking paraphernalia to those under 21 in Ulster
Tobacco retailers must require customers show their ID including a valid driver’s license or passport before sales

Retailers who sell tobacco must post visible signs that state the age restrictions and note sales are prohibited to those under 21 per local law

The county health department is to provide all tobacco retailers with training materials and programs.

Raise the smoking age

It’s June once again, and a proposed NY State Tobacco 21 minimum legal sales age law is once again in jeopardy of running out of time. With bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly, both full chambers in Albany should be given an opportunity to pass this common-sense, bipartisan-supported law.

I’m calling on my local and surrounding area legislators, both in the state Senate and Assembly, to push for a T21 bill to be put on the table. In addition I’m asking for them to reach out to their colleagues for support to see that their respective bills (S.3978; A.273) advance to a full vote in both chambers. Last year time ran out on the bill stuck in committee. The time for delays and excuses should be over. Ninety-five percent of smokers begin their path to tobacco addiction before age 21. Just do the math.

The Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Rules Committee have their respective bills before them. They should be responsible this time and vote them out of committee. Please.

This should not be a political issue. Just take a look at last month’s Nassau County Legislature’s unanimous passage of a T21 bill. Come on already!

Tobacco 21 signed in as Nassau County law

Nassau County’s legal age to purchase tobacco is officially 21.

On Monday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) signed into law a bill raising the age from 18 after the Legislature unanimously approved it in May.

The bill was introduced by the Republican majority, but followed years of GOP opposition to the age increase bill introduced by members of the Democratic minority.

Legislator Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) said in a news release that he was proud to witness this historic day in Nassau.

Drucker’s predecessor, the late Legislator Judy Jacobs, had been a big proponent of increasing the age and was the first to propose the law.

“Raising the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco products to 21 will save lives by making it harder for teenagers to pick up a dangerous habit that results in a lifetime of poor health, addiction, inordinate expense, and a loss of the ability to enjoy life to its fullest,” Drucker said.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said in a previous interview that some opposition from his colleagues had stemmed from feeling that 19- and 20-year-olds are old enough to make the decision themselves.

However, an increase in young people using e-cigarettes created a “new urgency” for the bill, Nicolello said.

The law will fine stores for selling tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, herbal cigarettes, rolling papers and electronic cigarettes, to underage customers.

It will mainly affect Oyster Bay, as the 21 age requirement is already a town law in North Hempstead and Hempstead.

Our View: Minnesota’s cities continue to lead in snuffing smoking

With elected state leaders still mostly just blowing smoke, Minnesota’s cities continue to take steps to improve health, clear the air, and prevent young Minnesotans from being ensnared by the deadly dangers of cigarettes and tobacco use.

Last week, St. Peter became the ninth Minnesota city in just a little over a year to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21. It joined Edina, St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth, North Mankato, Shoreview, Falcon Heights, and Minneapolis in passing so-called “Tobacco 21” policies.

“Seeing local entities take charge of tobacco-prevention measures in their communities: That is so encouraging to us,” Anne Mason of the Minneapolis-based smoking-cessation group ClearWay Minnesota said in an interview last summer with the News Tribune Opinion page.

At that time, only Edina had raised the legal age to buy tobacco, and only a couple of other cities in our state were taking their first steps. Imagine Mason’s giddiness now.

“(Raising the legal age) takes it out of a high school kid’s social circle. If (tobacco companies) don’t get to you before age 21, chances are you won’t become an addicted adult,” she said. “(Local communities taking charge, taking action) is how great policies have passed in the past, and clearly Duluth has been a leader in this, in protecting clean indoor air, even with e-cigarettes, before the state had acted.”

You now have to be 21 to buy tobacco, vape products in Westchester

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County lawmakers raised the age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 in a vote Monday night.

The county Board of Legislators voted 16-1 to increase the age to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes, rolling papers and other products. Only Republican Minority Leader John Testa voted no.

Increasing the age will reduce the amount of people who become regular smokers, lawmakers said.

The change is expected to be signed into law by county Executive George Latimer. It goes into effect 60 days from when it’s enacted.

Westchester is the latest municipality to up the age to 21, after a similar measure became law in Rockland County in April. The town of New Castle in Westchester passed its own bill to increase the age earlier last month.

The statewide age is 18, but municipalities can choose to increase the age on their own. New York City and several other counties have been upped to 21. The minimum age in Nassau County is 19.

The state has debated raising the statewide age for tobacco products to 21.