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Senate will back raising age of legal tobacco purchase to 21

The state Senate this week will take up a bill that would raise the age to buy tobacco products in New York from 18 to 21.

The bill would match efforts by several local governments in recent years to raise the tobacco buying age in their counties to 21, but the measure has stalled in Albany.

Lawmakers’ intent in the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, is to prevent more people from starting to smoke earlier. The move would also match the minimum age for buying alcohol in New York.

“The key to reducing the number of smokers in New York is to stop them before they start,” the bill’s memo states. “Raising the smoking age to twenty-one removes cigarettes from high schools and eliminates a popular source of tobacco from underage children.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled he would be supportive of a higher tobacco-buying age in the state.

The bill also comes after lawmakers have backed legislation that would crack down on vaping products in New York, which policymakers worry is targeting teens.

The legislation’s likely passage in the Senate comes as the post-budget legislative session is already beginning in Albany this week as lawmakers remain at the Capitol.

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