WATERTOWN — A new state law went into effect Wednesday raising the minimum age for the purchase tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation raising the age on July 16, with the law to become effective 120 days later.
The legislation is part of Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to combat health threats from tobacco and e-cigarette products. A growing number of teenagers have turned to e-cigarettes as a purportedly safer alternative to cigarettes, although the state is now also cracking down of the sale of some of these products.
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.