NY Gov. Wants To Raise Age To Buy Tobacco, E-Cigs

Jan 12, 2019

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to raise the state's minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21 — to curb their use by younger people.

Cuomo announced Saturday that he will include the proposal in his 2019 executive budget.

The legislation would ban sale of tobacco and electronic cigarette products in pharmacies, restrict their display in retail stores that are not adult-only and require that e-cigarettes be sold only by licensed retailers.

The Democrat says New York has made "great strides" to stamp out teen smoking, but new products threaten to undo the progress.

Cuomo also wants to clarify the health department's authority to ban the sale of certain flavored e-cigarette liquids, except menthol, that could be popular as a smoking starter product for youth.

A number of groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, praised the governor Saturday.

“New York has a chance to be the nation’s leader in fighting cancer but to do that we must take an aggressive stand against the tobacco industry. Increasing the age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 just makes sense,” said ACS CAN New York senior government relations director Julie Hart in a statement.

“We have been pushing for Tobacco 21 legislation for years,” said Caitlin O’Brien, New York state government relations director for the American Heart Association in a Saturday statement. “If people under 21 can’t purchase tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, it will really drive down youth use rates by eliminating kid’s source of tobacco — their older friends. If people don’t use any tobacco products before the age of 21, their chances of doing so plummets to only 2 percent.”

The American Lung Association said it strongly supports Cuomo’s proposal and urges the state Senate and Assembly to adopt it.

“Smoking kills more than 28,000 New Yorkers per year and costs the state of $10 billion annually, said Michael Seilback, National Assistant Vice President of State Public Policy for American Lung Association.” Additionally, the use of e-cigarettes by our youth is an epidemic that demands bold action. The Governor’s thoughtful legislative proposal will save lives, protect countless young people, and save the state in healthcare costs.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.