ALBANY - A new proposal would raise the smoking age in New York while exempting members of the military, a move the bill's sponsor hopes can help garner more support.
The bill from Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, Westchester County, would increase the purchasing age for tobacco products from 18 to 19 in the Empire State, except for military members, who would still be able to buy at 18.
The proposal comes as the idea of increasing the smoking age picks up steam in New York.
A key Senate committee last week approved a bill to hike the tobacco purchasing age to 21, a move some local governments -- including Tompkins County and New York City -- have already made.
“I had steered toward 19 because I felt that young people would be out of high school and that’s where so often one starts to smoke, during those (high school) years,” Galef said Wednesday.
Galef said she included the military exemption to satisfy critics who argue that if an individual is serving the country, then they should be allowed to smoke.
Another reason? Military enrollees are not allowed to smoke during basic training, she said.
Under the proposal, business owners would also be required to ID anyone purchasing the products if they appear to be under the age of 26.
Galef’s proposal comes after the Senate Health Committee last week approved the similar bill, giving advocates hope the issue may get an airing in the Republican-led Senate.
The new bill would not overturn any local measures setting the age at 21, such as the one approved Tuesday by Tompkins County.
Galef said she would be supportive of raising the statewide smoking age to either 19 or 21.
“Whatever we can do to make it more difficult for people to start,” she said.
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