ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York will raise its smoking age from 18 to 21 under legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Cuomo.
The change takes effect in 120 days, on Nov. 13, and will apply to the sales of traditional tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.
Gov. Cuomo said too many children and teens pick up smoking despite decades of efforts to snuff out the habit. The governor blamed part of that on marketing he says is aimed directly at young people.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The governor’s office added that, according to the Surgeon General, 88 percent of adult smokers start using tobacco before age 18 and 90 percent of the people who buy cigarettes for underage children are between ages 18 and 20.
“Tobacco 21 is a no-brainer,” said Julie Hart, senior government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network of New York.
Sixteen states have approved raising the smoking age to 21, though the changes won’t take effect in some of those states until late 2019 or some time after.
In addition, hundreds of local communities around the nation have made the move to 21. In New York state they include New York City, Long Island, Albany and a dozen other counties.
“Tobacco use is harmful to New Yorkers and leads to cancer, major health problems, and death. Raising the age of purchase to 21 will help ensure fewer children start this deadly habit,” senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added.