The New York State Assembly now has a pair of bills moving through the Assembly and Senate that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products throughout the state to 19, though it would provide an exemption for those 18-year-olds who are serving in the United States military, National Guard or reserves. While the Assembly bill was first introduced in March 2013, the companion Senate Bill was introduced on April 23, 2014.
Assembly Bill 6093 and Senate Bill 7053 have both been referred to the health committees in their respective chambers, though neither has received a vote, though the Assembly Bill has already undergone one wave of amendments in early April.
Neither bill prohibits cities, counties or other municipalities from increasing the age beyond 19, something that has already been done in New York City, which raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 in November 2013 and which will go into effect on May 19, 2014. Suffolk County, which covers the central and eastern sections of Long Island, also increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco in the county to 21 on April 14, a change that will go into effect on January 1, 2015. Neighboring Nassau County, however, recently failed to pass legislation that would have increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
The northeastern United States continues to be a hotbed of tobacco related legislation, as Massachusetts has not only seen more than 20 of its cities and towns increase the age from 18-years-old, but also has an amendment to its 2015 state budget that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21. Vermont failed to pass similar legislation earlier this year, joining Hawaii, Colorado, Utah and Maryland in being states home to similar unsuccessful efforts.