New York Raises Tobacco Purchasing Age

Different cigarettes at a storeNew York City has changed the minimum age to legally buy tobacco from 18 to 21, becoming the first major city to do so.

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“Teen smoking is a huge issue, especially given that if you ask current smokers, 81 percent started before they were 21,” said Susan Kansagra, MD, New York City’s deputy commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in all age groups in New York City, and more than 19,000 high school students under 18 currently smoke.

The new restriction will go into effect in six months. Other laws to be implemented later include increased penalties on shops that sell tobacco to minors, a ban on tobacco discounts and the minimum price of a cigarette pack raised to $10.50.