New York’s Tobacco-21 Law Takes Effect

The state’s minimum tobacco purchase age rose from 18 to 21 on Wednesday.

November 15, 2019

WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y.—The entire state of New York now has a minimum tobacco buying and using age of 21 as of November 13, reports. New York is the 18th state to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

“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,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The New York Health Department has joined with the state police to run undercover investigations via the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act, which brings onboard underage young people to attempt tobacco and e-cigarette purchases. “The Department of Health is using every tool at our disposal to prevent young people from developing lifelong and deadly nicotine addictions,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

Retailers say complying with the law will be no different from previously checking IDs for tobacco and alcohol purchases. Amalia Plaza, an assistant manager at a Marathon gas station in Penfield, said the store will continue to conduct checks. “We ID everyone, regardless of age,” she said. “No ID. No sale. … We won’t accept anything that’s expired or if it looks suspect. … It’s the law, and we have to follow the law.”

NACS is a strong proponent of the We Card program to identify and deny any attempts by minors to purchase age-restricted products. We Card is a nonprofit organization serving retailers of tobacco, alcohol, e-cigarettes, vapor and other age-restricted products. We Card offers free Tobacco-21 minimum age resources to help retailers prepare for the new requirements in New York and other states.