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Lawmakers discuss potential issue with new smoking law

Starting November 13, you have to be at least 21 years old to buy tobacco or e-cigarette products in New York State, but at least some local lawmakers have concerns about enforcement.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed that bill into law earlier this month, making New York State the 17th state to set 21 as the smoking age.

“Data has proven, as the age increases to purchase tobacco, the positive health outcomes increase as well,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy, a Democrat who represents Buffalo, Lackawanna and Cheektowaga.

Kennedy says the goal of raising the age is to prevent young people from being able to obtain tobacco products, preventing them from getting hooked in the first place.

In recent years, New York State has also pushed to get people not to smoke by raising taxes on tobacco products. The state excise tax rate is among the highest in the nation at $4.35 per package of 20 cigarettes.

But, Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, the ability to get tax-free cigarettes on the local native Reservations has undermined the states efforts to encourage smoking cessation.

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