HUDSON — The second set of new regulations restricting tobacco sales and advertising enacted as part of the 2020 state budget are set to go into effect July 1. These are in addition to bans on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vape products and the sale of all tobacco and vape products in pharmacies that were put in place on May 18.
“Legislators were clearly alarmed by the epidemic of teen vaping that had become such a problem in schools,” said Karen dePeyster from Columbia-Greene Tobacco-Free Action. “Almost 30% of high school students and 40% of seniors were vaping. It was too much to ignore. Fortunately they chose to take a comprehensive approach in addressing both vaping and all tobacco use.”
The new regulations prohibit tobacco and vape retailers from redeeming coupons and from offering multi-pack or other discounts. These price promotions are used to appeal to cost-conscious customers, especially low-income users and youth, and to offset state excise taxes. The NYS state tax on cigarettes, for example, is $4.35 a pack. Taxes as high as 20% were imposed on e-liquids in 2019.
The laws also restrict shipping and delivery of vape products only to licensed manufacturers or retailers; shipping to private residences is now prohibited. This reduces youth access to vape products by stopping online sales, which have been used to bypass age of sale restrictions.
Another provision prohibits stores within 1,500 feet of a school (or 500 feet in NYC) from placing tobacco and vape products, smoking paraphernalia, and advertising for any of these products in exterior windows or storefronts. In addition, penalties are increased for selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21; this applies to all retailers, regardless of location.
“Measures that make tobacco use more expensive and less convenient and make tobacco and vape products less visible and accessible are effective in motivating users to quit and in preventing youth from starting,” said dePeyster. “This package of new regulation covers all those bases. It’s a big win for public health.”
For help quitting smoking or vaping, including free nicotine replacement therapy for eligible residents, individuals can call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit www.nysmokefree.com. Or call your health care provider. Effective medications and counseling are covered by Medicaid and most insurance programs.