N.Y. County Raises Tobacco Purchase Age

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N.Y. County Raises Tobacco Purchase Age

NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. -- "Tobacco 19," a law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 19, goes into effect on Aug. 24 and retailers have mixed opinions on its effects, reported the Long Island Business News.

Some vendors look to its positive effects on teens. "I do believe it will make a big difference," a manager at an Eckerd store in Massapequa told the newspaper. "It will have a positive impact on smoking awareness." The manager requested not to have his name published in the newspaper. The store has already enforced the policy, and Eckerd employees card most customers to make certain that underage people will not obtain the products illegally.

At another store in Bethpage, the manager of a 7-Eleven told the newspaper that the law "will be especially helpful among local high school students, which makes a big difference in the community," this manager also did not wish to be named

But other retailers believe that this law will not have an impact. "I think the biggest deterrent is the price of the cigarettes, not the age requirement," David Howell, owner of Fair Food Market in Massapequa, told the newspaper.

"There's always a source for a young person to obtain cigarettes ... the law is going to stop the honest kid, but definitely not everyone," he added.

An informal study that was cited by the legislature revealed that 30 percent of the students at the counties high schools smoke cigarettes everyday, often on school grounds.

The law was approved April 24, and signed into law by County Executive Tom Suozzi on a local high school grounds.

But Nassau County is not the first county to enact such laws. Suffolk County has enforced the 19-year old age restriction since May 2005.

"Tobacco 19 may not be the full solution to teen smoking, but it's a step in the right direction," Nassau Health commissioner David M. Ackman stated in a written release. "By raising the legal tobacco purchasing age to 19, we can further reduce the prevalence of cigarettes in our high schools and keep teens from developing an addiction that threatens their lives and jeopardizes their futures."