Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the Assembly will pass legislation that would increase the purchasing age for tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 years old (A.558-A, Rosenthal).
Smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes is a dangerous and addictive habit that too often begins in high school or earlier, said Speaker Heastie. By raising the purchasing age to 21, we can remove tobacco and other addictive products from our schools and improve health outcomes by stopping smoking before it starts.
The overwhelming majority of smokers and e-cigarette users become addicted in their early teens, said Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. Raising the purchasing age to 21 would disrupt the social availability of cigarettes and other nicotine products to young people. Most New Yorkers, including New York City residents, already live in tobacco-21 counties, and its time we brought it statewide.
While we have made remarkable progress reducing smoking among all age groups, our efforts have been undercut, in part, because of the explosion in e-cigarette use among young people, which often leads directly to traditional tobacco smoking, said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. Raising the statewide smoking and vaping age to 21 years old will help prevent a new generation of young people from getting hooked on nicotine. It will also ensure that young people cannot just travel into another county to purchase dangerous and highly addictive cigarettes or e-cigarettes. When more than 75 percent of New Yorks population have already raised their local smoking and vaping age to 21, its imperative that the state step in to action to close the loop.
The best way to reduce the number of smokers and e-cigarette users is to prevent the initiation of use. By delaying children and young adults' ability to access tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, we will reduce the likelihood they ever start using the products, creating a healthier New York.