Cuomo: Raise Minimum Age To Buy Tobacco, E-Cigarettes

January 12, 2019 - 4:28 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to raise the state's minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21 to curb their use by younger people.

Cuomo announced Saturday that he will include the proposal in his 2019 executive budget.

The legislation would ban sale of tobacco and electronic cigarette products in pharmacies, restrict their display in retail stores that are not adult-only and require that e-cigarettes be sold only by licensed retailers. 

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The governor says New York has made "great strides'' to stamp out teen smoking, but new products threaten to undo the progress. 

Cuomo also wants to clarify the health department's authority to ban the sale of certain flavored e-cigarette liquids, except menthol, that could be popular as a smoking starter product for youth.

Smoking kills 28,000 New Yorkers a year and costs the state $10 billion in health care, according to figures. 

Some surveys show raising the age of buying tobacco does little to stop teens from smoking and that they'll just get them from their friends.

People were torn about raising the age at the Classic Barber & Beauty Salon in Canarsie on Saturday. 

"It shouldn't be a law actually, but it should stay 18," one man said. 

"Raise it to 46," another man said. "Don't buy cigarettes at all."