Gov. Cuomo approves legislation raising the legal age to buy tobacco, e-cigarettes

E-Cigarette companies are cutting back on flavors of nicotine. Image courtesy of

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21.

On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo said he approved the legislation (S.2833/A.558) as part of his commitment to prevent health risks linked to tobacco and e-cigarettes, which contain the highly-addictive nicotine.

The U.S. Surgeon General warned that “nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm brain development, which continues until about age 25.” Experts consider nicotine a brain poison. It affects the areas of the brain responsible for attention, learning and memory. Nicotine exposure also increases the risk for future addiction to other drugs.

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Preventing young New Yorkers from getting addicted to tobacco, e-cigarettes

In a statement, Gov. Cuom said, “New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting 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 added.

On the other hand, State Sen. Diane Savino, commented,” As a former smoker, I know how addictive these products can be – but as a legislator, I know its good public policy to take every step to continue protecting our youth from these potentially dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, said, “Big tobacco and its vaping industry cronies build their business by hooking young people on nicotine. 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 to another county to purchase dangerous and highly-addictive cigarettes or e-cigarettes.”

Sen. Savino and Assembly member Rosenthal are the sponsors of the legislation.

The Governor’s office noted that tobacco use remains the number one of preventable death in New York State. The number of underage youth smoking traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes is increasing.

According to the New York State Department of Health, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product by young New Yorkers. The rate of e-cigarette use among the youth in the state from 2014 to 2016 increased from 11 percent to 11 percent.