Proposed minimum age increase for tobacco sales receives criticism

January 12, 2019 11:13 PM

Teens in New York might soon be banned from buying all tobacco products. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to raise tobacco and e-cigarette sales age from 18 to 21.

Nineteen year old Brendan Budd says he's been vaping for almost two years. He started with the menthol flavor, but now he enjoys a fruity flavor called sweet tooth.

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It just relaxes me, I enjoy blowing the clouds and playing with the smoke," Budd said.

Governor Cuomo wants to stop Budd's habit. Governor Cuomo announced that he's including in his proposal for the state budget, a law that would raise the minimum sale to of tobacco and e-cigs to 21. It would also allow the health department to limit the sale of certain flavors.

"I do it all day every day," Budd said. "That would make me have to stop what I do with my daily routine and that would really mess me up."

Governor Cuomo says his proposal is meant to stop teens from smoking. Part of his press release today reads, "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..."

Leonard Stebbins owns Dewey Avenue Smoke Shop, he does not agree with raising the age. He also says the majority of his customers are not teenagers.

"You can go off to war, but you can't enjoy a cigar afterwards...that seems a bit unfair to me," Stebbins said.

Stebbins says raising the age will not keep teens from smoking. Instead of shopping at stores, he says they'd find their tobacco products on the black market.

"If somebody wants something they're going to get it...Laws never seemed to effect that," Stebbins said. "We have an active underground economy of drugs, untaxed tobacco products and everything else going on in this state."

If the age is raised Budd won't be able to buy his vape liquid but he says that won't necessarily stop him from doing it.
"For a lot of people they can just get a family member or friend that's older to go get it," Budd said. "They don't mind going in and getting it for you."

On top of the governor’s proposal, there several different pieces of legislation in Assembly and Senate that would either limit the sale of tobacco products or tax them. These are all expected to be talked about amongst lawmakers this session. As for the full plan on the governor's end, he will be releasing his full budget Tuesday.


Kaci Jones

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