By Courtney Rau SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – 90% of cigarette smokers start the habit before the age of 21.
That’s one reason New York state raised the age to buy tobacco products to 21 years old.
The new 21+ law, implemented Wednesday, will prohibit the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21 in hopes to combat the recent increase in teen smokers.
However, Chris Owens, Director of CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems, says that cigarettes aren’t the main concern anymore.
“Now with electronic cigarettes, we’re at an all-time high with e-cigarette usage and so, it’s kind of been washing out all the great progress we’ve made with traditional products over the last few years,” says Owens.
Onondaga County was one of several counties in Central New York that implemented the 21+ law early, back in January 2018 to be exact.
Now, the state of New York is now one of 18 states in the country to raise the tobacco purchase age completely.
“By limiting access to the products for people in that age category, we are going to eventually see that less and less individuals become nicotine dependent because they don’t have the same ease of access to the products that they once did,” says Owens.
The new 21+ law is helping the health of smokers, but is also benefitting New York residents who aren’t smokers too. According to Owens, the tax burden in New York state is around $15,000 per household to treat tobacco related illnesses – so, the ban will hopefully help reduce the hefty taxes.
Businesses that are caught violating the new law could get charged up to $1,000 per violation and could possibly get their tobacco license – and license to sell lottery tickets – revoked if caught for repeat violations.