ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed two bills to protect New York's children and teenagers from the harmful effects of cigarettes.
The new laws include measures to prohibit smoking within 100 feet of the entrances or exits of any public or private schools as well as prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18.
"Cigarette smoking - as well as exposure to secondhand smoke - is dangerous, particularly for our children," Cuomo said. "These two new laws will strengthen our state's protections to help our young people avoid nicotine addiction as well as the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. I thank the sponsors of both these bills for their efforts to protect the health of our youth."
Prohibiting smoking outside school entrances
There are tens of thousands of deaths each year in New York related to tobacco use. In addition to smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke may cause various illnesses and is known to be particularly detrimental to the health of children who are in their early years of physical development.
The new law expands the ban on smoking on school grounds to prohibit smoking within 100 feet of the entrances, exits or outdoor areas of public and private schools. Residences or residential property within the 100 foot perimeter would be excluded from the new law's smoking ban.
This new law takes effect immediately.
Prohibiting sale of electronic cigarettes to minors
Cigarette smoking delivers toxins and carcinogens to the body, leading to diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema which are often fatal. Nicotine is the addictive ingredient in cigarettes that makes it very difficult for smokers to quit, despite knowledge of the devastating health effects of cigarette use.
The majority of Americans who use tobacco products become addicted to the nicotine in those products before reaching the age of 18 years. Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale a vaporized liquid nicotine solution instead of tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes could serve as a pathway to nicotine addiction for children, leading them to smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products. Moreover, e-cigarette refill cartridges, often sold without protective packaging, contain high concentrations of nicotine which could be fatal if accidentally ingested by young children. In addtiona, the FDA has warned that that e-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans or that may otherwise be unsafe.
The new law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to individuals who are less than 18 years of age. The bill passed the Assembly and Senate unanimously, and the new law takes effect on Jan. 1.