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Minimum age to buy tobacco products in NY goes to 21 on Wednesday

The minimum age to buy Juul devices and

The minimum age to buy Juul devices and all other tobacco products in New York State increases to 21 starting Wednesday.   Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

The minimum age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes in New York State will be 21 starting today, making the state the 18th to pass such a law in response to an alarming rise in vaping and tobacco use among young people.

The development comes four months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill, which was supported overwhelmingly by both chambers of the legislature. It was hailed as a victory by health experts.  Both Nassau and Suffolk already ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

“Congratulations to the State of New York on achieving an important milestone for public health this week, as it raises the age of sale of any and all tobacco products to 21,” said Harold Wimmer, president and chief executive of the American Lung Association, in a statement. “New York continues to set an example for other states across the nation in its bold actions to protect youth from a lifetime of tobacco-related death and disease.”

The push to raise the age statewide came after a December 2018 report by the U.S. surgeon general showing a 78% spike in e-cigarette use among high schoolers, from 11.7% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018.

"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," Cuomo said in July while signing the bill into law.

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