Sullivan County Rural Health Network

New Tobacco Age Re­stric­tions To Take Effect While Flavored Vape Ban Remains in Legal Limbo

By Nick Reisman New York State

New age restrictions on purchasing tobacco and electronic cigarette products are taking effect this month as New York’s effort to ban flavored tobacco used for vaping has been delayed amid a court challenge by the industry.

The minimum age for purchasing tobacco and electronic cigarette products will be raised from 18 to 21 beginning November 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said on Monday as state lawmakers in New York City hold a hearing on the growing health concerns surrounding vaping.

“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. “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.”

A vaping industry trade group, meanwhile, is pushing back against a ban on flavored e-cigarette tobacco, successfully winning a delay in the implementation of the policy, done through executive action by the governor.

Still, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in an interview on Friday said the state was pursuing efforts to contend with the health concerns raised by vaping. At least one person has died and others have been sickened in the state, which is believed to be related to vaping induced illnesses.

“We’re trying to tackle this from all fronts on this issue,” Zucker said. “The department and the state overall is committed to getting to the bottom of the issues and to tackle this in any way we can, both from getting our message out to the public as well as to work with whatever avenues we can.”

Cuomo is expected to propose in January a package of measures designed to curtail vaping usage as well as respond to the intersection of e-cigarette use and the effort to legalize marijuana. Cuomo is working with neighboring states to craft policies on both issues.