New York takes big step toward raising smoking age to 21

New York is one step closer to setting its smoking age at 21.

The state Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday for a bill that would increase the age to purchase tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21, a move sought for years by the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and other advocacy organizations.

The measure now heads to the state Senate, where the Democrats who control the chamber are expected to discuss the issue in private soon.

It already has the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who threw his support behind the measure earlier this year.

The Assembly approved the bill 105-23, according to an unofficial tally.

“The fact is if people don’t start using cigarettes by the age of 19 or 20, the likelihood that they become addicted to cigarettes is very low," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, who sponsored the measure.

"And that’s why we’re setting it at 21 to stop people before they start the habit.”

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