Gov. Cuomo signed a bill into law that will raise the legal smoking age across New York State.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21.

"New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people," Cuomo said. "By raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, we can stop cigarettes and e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of young people in the first place and prevent an entire generation of New Yorkers from forming costly and potentially deadly addictions."

Tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in New York State, according to the Governor's Office. About 28,000 adult New Yorkers die every year as a result of smoking. Additionally, an increasing number of underage youth are using both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

From 2014 to 2018 youth use of e-cigarettes increased by 160 percent and more than half of teens falsely believe that e-cigarette use is harmless, official say.

"Big tobacco and its vaping industry cronies build their business by hooking young people on nicotine. Raising the statewide smoking and vaping age to 21 years old will help prevent a new generation of young people from getting hooked on nicotine," Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said.

According to the Surgeon General, 88% of adult smokers started using tobacco before age 18 and 90% of the people who purchase cigarettes for minors are between the ages of 18 and 20.

Officials believe raising the legal purchase age to 21 will help prevent underage children from obtaining tobacco products reducing the likelihood young adults ever start smoking and become addicted, and ultimately save thousands of lives.

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