Hyland: Raising the age for tobacco to 21 is "an important, sensible first step"

Nov 13, 2019

New York has now raised the minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes to 21 years old, from 18. The law, which went into effect today, "is going to save thousands of lives," said Dr. Andrew Hyland, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Andrew Hyland is the Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Credit RoswellPark.org

The goal of the new law, officials say, is to prevent addictive cigarette and vaping products from getting to young people.

The New York Department of Health says nearly 40 percent of 12th grade students and 27 percent of high school students are now using e-cigarettes. They say the increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids.

"It's not going to cure everything, but it's an important, sensible step to decrease the accessibility of an addictive product," Hyland told WBFO.

"That means less addiction, less disease down the road. So, it really is a tremendous public health benefit."

The Surgeon General says 88% of adult smokers started using tobacco as minors and 90% of those who purchase cigarettes for minors are between 18 and 20 years old.

The Cuomo administration has pushed to outlaw flavored e-cigarettes, but a court has blocked that ban.

"Fifteen, 16 or 17 states, perhaps, now have adopted Tobacco 21," Hyland said.

"I think it reflects changing norms that using an addictive, harmful product just doesn't make sense."