ALBANY – Legislation to raise the purchase age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21 years old was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. It takes effect in 120 days.
The measure was given final approval in April in the Legislature with the urging of an unusual assortment of health and tobacco industry groups. They argued it will reduce smoking rates, saving both lives and health care costs.
Critics argued that the new law does not make it illegal for someone under age 21 to smoke and that tobacco and e-cigarette products will still be easy to obtain for teenagers and that other steps would have been more effective, such as banning sales of flavored e-cigarette products that are especially popular with teens. Others said the law discriminates against individuals over age 18 who are legally able to vote, serve in the military and have an assortment of other rights at the point New York considers them to be adults.
Cuomo said teen use of tobacco and the rapidly growing e-cigarette market persists “thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people." The new law, he said, will reduce teen access to the products.