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Nov 4, 2019 12:38 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Law Raising Minimum Age For Tobacco Purchases Goes Into Effect Next week

Nov 4, 2019 1:30 PM

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced this week that New York’s law raising the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21 will go into effect on November 13.

“The goal of the law is simple — to prevent cigarettes and vaping products from getting into the hands of our youth, creating an addiction to a deadly habit,” Governor Cuomo said in a release. “We are taking aggressive action to make sure the decades of progress we’ve made to combat tobacco addiction is not undone by a sharp rise in e-cigarette use among younger New Yorkers.”

According to Department of Health data, nearly 40 percent of 12th grade students and 27 percent of high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes, and the increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids.

High school use in 2018 (27.4 percent) was 160 percent higher than it was in 2014 (10.5 percent). While New York’s high school student smoking rate dropped from 27.1 percent in 2000 to a record low of 4.3 percent in 2016, aggressive marketing promoting flavored e-cigarettes stands to turn that trend.

Flavoring is a key youth marketing strategy of the vaping/aerosol industry, just as it is in the cigarette, cigar, and smokeless tobacco markets. Studies show nearly 78 percent of high school students, and 75 percent of middle school students report being exposed to pro-tobacco marketing in 2016.

To further crack down on retailers selling tobacco and vaping products to underage youth, the New York State Police department is partnering with the Department of Health to conduct undercover investigations across the state under The Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act, which enlists underage youth to attempt to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products.

As of November 1, over 1,700 inspections had occurred since July outside of New York City, focusing on youth 18 years and under. Retailers found selling tobacco and vaping products to underage individuals will now face criminal penalties in addition to civil penalties.

By raising the legal purchase age to 21, the legislation will help prevent underage children from obtaining tobacco products from their friends, reducing the likelihood young adults ever start smoking and become addicted, and ultimately save thousands of lives, the release said.

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