White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators has voted to raise the age limit for the sale of tobacco and related products in Westchester from 18 to 21.

The measure will prohibit the sale not only of cigarettes and tobacco products but also e-cigarettes and vaping products to those under 21.

The measure passed Monday night on a bipartisan basis by a vote of 16-1

Westchester is just the latest local municipality to raise the age for tobacco sales.  Earlier this month, the town of New Castle raised the age there to 21.  Last month Rockland County did the same.  New York City established 21 as its age limit in 2013.

Many counties across New York have already established 21 as the tobacco-sales age limit – from Cattaraugus in Western New York to Schenectady County upstate to Onondaga County in Central New York to Suffolk County on Long Island.

Lawmakers believe the new measure will dramatically reduce the number of new smokers and the likelihood of new addictions to vaping products, some of which have a higher nicotine content than cigarettes.

Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D- Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) said, “I am so glad that Westchester County has joined the many jurisdictions in New York State and in neighboring states which have decided to put the public's health and safety first.  Tobacco 21 will do much to protect our young people from the dangers of nicotine addiction and the carcinogens in nicotine products.  As the Board discussed this measure over many months, it was both heartening and sad to hear from so many young people who have experience with this problem.”

Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill) said, “I’m grateful that Westchester County has joined other nearby counties and New York City in increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 21, which will greatly diminish access to these products among younger people.  The research is very clear and compelling: The later a person is exposed to using tobacco and nicotine products, the less likely they are to become addicted.  This will have a great, positive impact on individual and public health outcomes.  This law is very good news for the children and young adults of Westchester.”

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D-Harrison, Scarsdale, White Plains) said, “This measure will protect the health of young people in Westchester, not only those ages 18 to 21 but also younger people who are more likely to have an 18 or 19-year-old willing to buy them tobacco and nicotine products in their social circles. This is especially important with the explosive growth of high-nicotine vaping among middle schoolers and high schoolers today.”

Majority Leader Catherine Parker (D- Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye) said, “This is an important step in keeping our kids safe and healthy, particularly with the research showing the negative impacts of nicotine on the adolescent brain, and the dramatic growth of vaping among young people. Whatever we do to prevent kids from smoking or becoming addicted to nicotine today, pays dividends for a lifetime.”

The measure now goes to County Executive George Latimer for his signature.