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Tobacco 21 Becomes Law in Suffolk

Huntington (WALK) - It's official: a resolution that raises the legal age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21 in Suffolk County was signed by the county executive yesterday.

The new law, which takes effect next January 1st, is the toughest of its kind in the nation, according to supporters. Suffolk Legislator William Spencer, who's a pediatric surgeon, sponsored the legislation.

"This is a measure most agree will not only save lives but contain health care costs as well," said Spencer.

The measure, however, is not without its critics. Convenience store owners in particular were opposed to raising the age because customers will simply take their business elsewhere or buy banned products online, they say. The measure bans sales not only of tobacco products but also high-profit products like rolling papers, cigars and e-cigarettes. A legislative budget analysis says the county could lose over $400,000 in sales tax revenue.

A similar measure takes effect in New York City next month but Nassau won't be following suit. Republicans who control the Nassau Legislature have decided not to put it up for a vote because they believe the issue should be taken up at the state level.

E-cigarettes don't contain the same harmful carcinogens as tobacco but they do contain addictive nicotine. Recent studies have concluded that e-cigarettes could be a "gateway" to cigarettes and tobacco products.

Photo: Tomasz Sienicki

 

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