Assembly votes to raise smoking, vaping age

Mar 7, 2019

Lawmakers in the New York state Assembly have voted to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

Credit Ayhan Yildiz /

The legislation, which passed the Democrat-led chamber on Wednesday, prohibits the sale of tobacco, as well as electronic cigarettes, to anyone under 21.  That's already the law in seven states and several cities around the country, including New York City.

“For generations, tobacco companies have targeted their advertising toward children and young adults,” said Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster). “Unfortunately, their marketing has been successful in securing lifelong tobacco customers, with those users often developing health issues stemming from tobacco usage. By raising the age to 21, we’re taking a stand against tobacco companies and curbing the likelihood of more New Yorkers developing a lifelong dependency on addictive tobacco products.”

Additionally, Wallace said, by setting the age to purchase e-cigarettes and tobacco at 21, "we will effectively abolish the pipeline of vaping products to middle schools and high schools.”

The measure is backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and has broad support in the Democrat-controlled state Senate, where it has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

Julie Hart of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network called the measure "common sense'' and said it will reduce the number of young people who become addicted.