New York state has raised its smoking age from 18 to 21 years old under new legislation signed into law this week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed the change into law, making it illegal to sell tobacco products and electronic cigarettes and vaporizers to anyone under 21 years of age, NBC reported. The law goes into effect 120 days, or roughly four months, from the signing.
The law is meant to curb smoking by 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,” Gov. Cuomo said of the new legislation.
New York City had already made the move to a 21-year-old minimum on smoking, as had Long Island, Albany and a dozen other New York counties.
Almost all smokers — 95 percent — begin using tobacco before age 21, according to the American Cancer Society. The New York Department of Health reports that over two million adults still smoke and about 35,000 high school students smoke. The average age they smoked a whole cigarette for the first time was at 13 years old. But e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product by youth — more than cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookah.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network of New York spokeswoman Julie Hart called Tobacco 21, the national campaign aimed at raising the minimum legal age for tobacco and nicotine sales to 21, a “no brainer.”
Sixteen states have also approved raising the smoking age to 21, according to the AP.