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Age To Buy Tobacco, Vaping Products Upped To 21 By Westchester Legislators

Westchester County has upped the age for buying tobacco and "vape" products to 21. A pod of JUUL contains an amount of nicotine equal to an entire pack of conventional cigarettes. The e-cig is a popular sales item at many area gas stations and delis.
Westchester County has upped the age for buying tobacco and "vape" products to 21. A pod of JUUL contains an amount of nicotine equal to an entire pack of conventional cigarettes. The e-cig is a popular sales item at many area gas stations and delis. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated.

The County Board of Legislators has voted to raise the age limit for the sale of tobacco and related products in Westchester from 18 to 21.

County Executive George Latimer is expected to sign the new legislation into law at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6, making it effective in 60 days.

Latimer's bill-signing ceremony is planned on the 8th floor Rotunda of the Board of Legislators at 148 Martine Ave. in White Plains.

The measure will prohibit the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes and vaping products to those under 21.

The measure will prohibit the sale not only of cigarettes and tobacco products but also e-cigarettes and vaping products to those under 21.

The measure passed Monday night, June 4 by a vote of 16-1. The one "no" vote was cast by John Testa (R-Peekskill, Cortlandt and Yorktown).

Westchester is the latest local municipality to raise the age for tobacco sales. Last month, New Castle raised the age in the town to 21, and Rockland County did the same in April. New York City established 21 as its age limit in 2013.

Many counties across New York have already established 21 as the tobacco-sales age limit – from Cattaraugus in Western New York to Schenectady County upstate to Onondaga County in Central New York to Suffolk County on Long Island.

Lawmakers believe the new measure will dramatically reduce the number of new smokers and the likelihood of new addictions to vaping products, some of which have a higher nicotine content than cigarettes.

Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D- Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) said, “I am so glad that Westchester County has joined the many jurisdictions in New York State and in neighboring states which have decided to put the public's health and safety first. Tobacco 21 will do much to protect our young people from the dangers of nicotine addiction and the carcinogens in nicotine products."

Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill) said, “I’m grateful that Westchester County has joined other nearby counties and New York City in increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 21, which will greatly diminish access to these products among younger people. The research is very clear and compelling: The later a person is exposed to using tobacco and nicotine products, the less likely they are to become addicted. This will have a great, positive impact on individual and public health outcomes."

Board Chairman Ben Boykin (D-Harrison, Scarsdale, White Plains) said, “This is especially important with the explosive growth of high-nicotine vaping among middle schoolers and high schoolers today.”

Majority Leader Catherine Parker (D- Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye) said, “This is an important step in keeping our kids safe and healthy, particularly with the research showing the negative impacts of nicotine on the adolescent brain, and the dramatic growth of vaping among young people."

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