New York & Virginia Consider Taking Tobacco 21 Statewide
NATIONAL REPORT — The number of states prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old could grow by two this year.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a proposal to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products, including vapor products, to 21 in his 2019 executive budget.
The legal age in New York now stands at 18.
Cuomo's proposed tobacco legislation also includes a ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies and clarifies the state health department's authority to ban the sale of certain flavored e-cigarette liquids, among other measures.
In all, the proposed legislation includes:
- Raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21;
- Ending the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products in pharmacies;
- Prohibiting the display of tobacco products and packaging, including e-cigarettes, in all retail stores that are not adult-only;
- Clarifying the state health department's authority to ban the sale of certain flavored e-liquids;
- Restricting available discounts provided by tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers; and
- Requiring e-cigarettes be sold only through licensed retailers.
"We have made great strides to stamp out teen smoking, but new products threaten to undo this progress to the detriment of millions of Americans. In New York, we refuse to stand idly by while unscrupulous businesses target our young people and put their very futures at risk," Cuomo said. "With this comprehensive proposal, we are taking aggressive action to combat this very real public health crisis and curb the use of nicotine products before they result in deadly consequences for an entire generation of New Yorkers."
A group of lawmakers in Virginia is also looking to pass statewide Tobacco 21 legislation, according to The Washington Post.
"Certainly we have a history of tobacco . . . that really dates back to 1608," said Del. Christopher P. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), a physician who is sponsoring the bill in the House. "We adapt as we move forward, and we recognize it's something that needs to be done. We certainly are a product of our history, but I don't think we're bound by our history."
The bill is also supported by House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R-James City) and Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax).
Gov. Ralph Northam has not commented on the proposal.
Virginia is home to Altria Group Inc., the U.S. tobacco leader. In October, the company said it was lending its support to federal legislation that would increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
To date, six states and Washington, D.C. have Tobacco 21 laws on the books. Massachusetts became the latest state hike the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 on Dec. 31.