ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation Tuesday to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21.
This legislation is part of Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to combat health threats from tobacco and e-cigarette products, and will take effect in 120 days.
New York will be joining 16 other states that have approved raising the smoking age to 21.
Stephen A. Jennings, public health planner for the Jefferson County Public Health Service, said this legislation is critical in mitigating access, use and addiction to tobacco products by 18- to 21-year-olds — specifically e-cigarettes.
“While cigarette use has declined in recent years, e-cigarette use and vaping have exploded to a point of normalization among adults, but particularly among high school students,” Mr. Jennings said.
Originally introduced as a smoking cessation product, e-cigarettes are now used by about two million middle and high school students, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of high school students reportedly using e-cigarettes rose by 75 percent from 2017 to 2018 and by 50 percent among middle-school students.
In 2011, 1.5 percent of high school students in the U.S. used e-cigarettes, increasing drastically by 2017 to 11.7 percent. In Jefferson County in 2018, the use was even higher, with 19.4 percent of young people in seventh through 12th grades reportedly using e-cigarettes within the last 30 days.
Data from Lewis and St. Lawrence counties’ public health offices was not available on Wednesday.
Though Mr. Jennings said the service acknowledges it can’t prevent all young people from smoking or vaping with this bill, it’s a step in the right direction.
“Preventing ability to purchase these products through law will help prevent initiation of first-time use, reduce use among those already addicted and help people quit, because evidence from laws and policies previously enacted demonstrate that these policies work,” Mr. Jennings said.