Nassau County, N.Y. to Revisit Tobacco Purchase Age Increase

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Legislators in Nassau County, N.Y. will once again consider legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 19 to 21-years-old, and it appears that there might be enough support to pass the legislation.

This current version comes from the legislature’s presiding officer, Richard Nicolello, R-New Hyde Park, and will mark the third attempt to raise the age in the past several years. Previous attempts to raise the age failed in 2014 and 2015, though both of those proposals came from the other side of the political aisle, and Republican leadership had blocked the bills introduced by Legis. Judy Jacobs from getting as much as a hearing, let alone a vote. Should this year’s version pass, she won’t get to see the fruits of her work as she died in September 2016.

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The legislation is being seen as a way to get all of the towns in the county to have the same minimum age to purchase tobacco products; while Hempstead and North Hempstead have passed increases, the town of Oyster Bay has not.

Should it pass, the law would apply to all tobacco products as well as shisha, herbal cigarettes, electronic aerosol delivery systems such as e-cigarettes and vaping products, as well as smoking paraphernalia. It would also place a ban on the sale of such products via vending machines.

The county’s department of health would be tasked with enforcing the new regulations, with retailers subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first and second offense of  selling to a person under 21-years-old. A third violation within 36 months carries the same fine and a suspension of their tobacco retailer license for six months.

The proposal is currently scheduled for a May 7 hearing by the legislature’s Rules Committee. If it makes it through the legislative process in its current form, it would go into effect immediately upon passage.

Nassau County, which is on the western end of Long Island, is home to an estimated 1.367 million residents.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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