Retailers Prepare For Raise In Legal Age To Purchase Tobacco Products

Bankruptcy Industry

N.Y. Law To Make Legal Age For Tobacco Products 21, In Effect Wednesday, Nov. 13


By Tina Traster

Beginning tomorrow, retailers need to be prepared to adhere to a new law that raises the legal age to purchase tobacco products in New York from 18 to 21. The change was approved by lawmakers earlier this year in order to curb teenage tobacco use but retailers were given 120 days to adjust to the requirement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the law in July, said the new age requirement to purchase cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products in the state will shield a generation from the negative impacts of smoking.

“The goal of this law is simple — to prevent cigarettes and vaping products from getting into the hands of our youth, creating an addiction to a deadly habit,” Cuomo said in a statement last week.

Retailers across the state have been preparing for the higher age requirement to purchase tobacco products since the law was first approved in July.

“For months we’ve been letting our members know that Nov. 13 is the effective date,” said Jim Calvin, president of the state’s Association of Convenience Stores.

Calvin said his organization has been distributing new signs noting the higher age requirement that retailers that sell tobacco products are required to have on display.

He’s heard little opposition since the law passed and said he believes the general public is fully aware of the new age requirements, citing an uptick in media reports.

The change comes as several states, including New York, seek to crack down on the flavored e-cigarettes over rising concerns that the products target children. Illness linked to vaping has left more than a thousand six nationwide.

A total of 165 lung injuries have been reported in New York, as well as one death. New evidence suggests the illness is linked to black market marijuana products black-market but several states, including New York, have sought to crack down on the sale of flavored vapes they say target children.

Cuomo, in September, issued an emergency declaration prohibiting the sale of flavored vape liquids in the state.

The new law, endorsed by health organizations including the American Cancer Society and    the American Lung Association – makes New York the 18th state to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

Neighboring states like New Jersey and Massachusetts raised their smoking age in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and similar measures has been approved in more than 500 localities nationwide.

There’s also been a push to raise the age to purchase tobacco products on the federal level as e-cigarette use, or vaping, continues to grow in popularity among teenagers.

In April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, announced plans to introduce legislation raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products on the federal level from 18 to 21, citing an “unprecedented spike” in vaping among teenagers.

The measure, however, was delayed by an appeals court just hours before it was set to take effect.