New law would raise the age to buy tobacco across New York State

(WKBW) - Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) says it strongly supports new legislation that would raise the age required to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products in New York.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) are proposing a bill that would raise the age from 18 to 21. They hope this bill will help reduce the number of smokers in the state. The legislation would also include e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. RPCI says the health effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown and there are concerns of them being used as a gateway to traditional tobacco use among teenagers.

Dr. Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of Health Behavior at RPCI and Director of the New York State Smokers' Quitline will be in Albany Monday to advocate for raising the age to legally purchase tobacco products.

According to Roswell, 28,000 New Yorkers die from preventable tobacco-related illnesses every year. The cancer institute also reports that 95% of adults who smoke started before the age of 21. RPCI says this legislation will drastically reduce these rates and prevent cancer related illnesses and deaths.

According to a report by the Institute of Medicine in 2015, raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco to 21 would decrease youth smoking by 12%. This would, in turn, reduce the number of adults who smoke or have tobacco-related illnesses.

Raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 has already happened in several places across the country, including California, Hawaii and 200 municipalities across 14 other states. This has already already passed in in seven counties in New York and all of New York City.

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