Raising Age To Buy Tobacco To 21 Sparks Controversy

Raising Age To Buy Tobacco To 21 Sparks Controversy

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Peter Nelli started smoking about 10 years ago when he was 21. 

Now that state lawmakers are encouraging the age to buy tobacco at 21, he says it would "reduce the number of high school students that will smoke. It will be a lot harder for them to access it and a lot harder for them to make fake IDs."

The bill passed through the state Assembly Tuesday.

However, Assemblymen Mark Walczyk and Ken Blankenbush both voted against it.

In a statement, Blankenbush said, "If you're old enough to go to war, you're old enough to make your own choices."

The American Heart Association supports the initiative. 

"The more people we can keep from smoking the better. We know that smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke. By not starting to smoke, you'll have the rest of your life to be healthy," said Kristy Smorol, communications director for the American Heart Association. 

As for local prevention services, Bill Bowman, executive director of PIVOT, says the number of people 18 to 21 who are buying tobacco and vape products is rising and he's hopeful the bill gets passed into law.

"Big tobacco has a lot of money and a lot of resources. They're very powerful and they're going to oppose this. So, I'm hopeful, not confident," he said.

The measure will now go before the Senate where it will likely pass. It is also backed by Governor Cuomo. 

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