Albany Co. passes law that raises age to buy tobacco related products

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Anyone under 21-years old will not be allowed to buy tobacco-related products in Albany County after the legislature passed a local law.

Local Law C passed with a vote of 24 to 13. The county legislators that voted to pass the law said it will be effective in reducing smoking rates within the younger population.

Benjamin is an employee at Smoker’s Choice in Albany. He said he started smoking at a young age because he was able to get his hands on a pack of cigarettes from friends.

Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, has the same argument.

“Older adults, acquaintances, Wally down the block, Uncle Charlie, mommy’s pocketbook – that’s the primary source of cigarettes for 14-aged smokers,” he said.

By raising the age to 21, those who support the law, said it will reduce the number of young smokers.

“We’ve been pushing for it for about year and a half or so now,” Kristin Salvi with the American Heart Association said. “We feel really strongly based on the evidence from the Institute of Medicine and different groups, we feel very strongly that the science and evidence is there.”

There’s been a perception that the law would negatively affect small businesses, but tobacco shops don’t believe it will make a different. Those under 21 will still find ways to get their hands on tobacco.

Cigarette sales to those under 21 account for only 2.12 percent of total sales in convenience stores. But 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 21, according to the American Heart Association.

“I think it will make a difference in terms of older teenagers who won’t be able to buy it from other high school kids, so they’ll have to work a lot harder to find people to help buy them cigarettes,” Benjamin said.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy needs to sign the law for it to go into effect.

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