Age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products in New York raised to 21

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this summer signed the legislation in a bid to combat health threats stemming from the use of these products. Credit: New York State Department of Health

As of Wednesday, anyone looking to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products in New York must be 21 years old.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this summer signed the legislation in a bid to combat health threats stemming from the use of these products.

New York State Police is partnering with the Department of Health to conduct undercover investigations on retailers selling vaping products to underage youth, according to a press release.

"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 earlier this month. "We are taking aggressive action to make sure the decades of progress we've made to combat tobacco addiction is not undone by a sharp rise in e-cigarette use among younger New Yorkers."

According to New York Department of Health data, nearly 27% of high school students in the state are now using e-cigarettes. In September, New York became the first US state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids to combat the increase in young people using vape products.

New York is the 18th state to raise the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, an advocacy group. Other states to pass this legislation include Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Illinois, Delaware, Arkansas, Washington, Maryland, Utah, Vermont, Texas, Connecticut and Ohio.

Several states have considered new ways to limit e-cigarette sales after a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injury. As of November 5, there have been 2,051 cases of vaping-associated illnesses, and states have reported at least 40 deaths. The first vaping-related death in New York, a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx, was reported in October.

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that vitamin E acetate, an additive sometimes used in THC and other vaping products, may be to blame for the outbreak of e-cigarette-related lung injuries. The CDC is continuing to test for a wide range of chemicals.

"This does not rule out other possible ingredients," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the CDC said last week. "There may be more than one cause."

CNN's Michael Besozzi and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.

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