New Law Prohibiting Sale of Cigarettes, Tobacco Products and Electronic Cigarettes 21+

What is the new law?
This law prohibits retailers from selling cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered
tobacco, other tobacco products or electronic cigarettes to customers under age 21.

Why did New York City pass this law?
In New York City, 80% of smokers start smoking before age 21. Among young people
who try tobacco, the transition from experimental to regular smoking occurs around
age 20. By increasing the minimum legal sales age, more New Yorkers will reach
adulthood without experimenting with or becoming addicted to nicotine.

What products does this law apply to?
This law prohibits retailers from selling cigarettes, other tobacco products (such as
cigars, cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, snus and tobacco-containing shisha), as well
as electronic cigarettes and their component parts (including refills and cartridges)
to people under 21.
What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that contain nicotine and deliver
vapor for inhalation. They may be sold as “e-cigs,” “e-cigarettes,” “e-hookahs” or
under other names. Common brands include Blu, NJOY and Logic, although there
are many others. Electronic cigarettes, as defined in the law, include refills, cartridges
and other component parts. Refills are sometimes called “e-liquid” or “e-juice.”
Are there any products not subject to the new legal sales age of 21?
Non-tobacco shisha, herbal cigarettes, pipes, rolling papers or smoking paraphernalia
can be sold to people under age 21, but sales of these products are still prohibited to
those under 18 years old.
Will new signage be required for New York City stores?
Yes. All retailers that sell cigarettes, other tobacco products, electronic cigarettes,
herbal cigarettes, shisha, pipes, rolling papers or smoking paraphernalia are required to
post−in a place highly visible to customers−a sign that complies with New York City law
on informing customers of the minimum sales age for these items. Signs will be sent in
the coming weeks and will be available online. To access them, visit and search
“tobacco laws,” or call 311

How will the new legal sales age affect age verification?
Retailers must verify that customers who ask for cigarettes, other
tobacco products or electronic cigarettes are at least 21 years
old. If a customer looks like he/she is under 30 years old, retailers
must ask for proof of age. Any of these documents constitutes
acceptable proof of age:
• A valid photo driver’s license or non-driver ID card issued by
a state or other U.S. or Canadian government agency.
New York State driver’s licenses have a new vertical format only
for those under 21, clearly stating “Under 21” at the top, making it
easier for retailers to identify customers who are younger than 21.
• A valid passport.
• A photo ID issued by the armed forces of the United States.
ID cards issued by employers, schools or colleges are not acceptable forms of ID.

What are the penalties for a violation?
Failure to post required signage can result in fines of up to $500. Sales of cigarettes, other
tobacco products or electronic cigarettes to people under age 21 can result in New York
City fines of up to $1,000 for the first violation and any other violation found that same day,
and up to $2,000 for the second violation and any subsequent violation within three years.
A second violation may result in revocation of the cigarette retail dealer license. New York
State may impose additional fines and penalties for sales of these products to people
under age 18. For more information, see New York State Public Health Law, Article 13-F,
§1399-aa et seq., also known as Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act or ATUPA.

When does this law go into effect?
This law takes effect on May 18, 2014.
How will this law be enforced?
It will be enforced by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
How can I read this fact sheet in other languages or see the actual law?
Visit and search “tobacco laws,” or call 311 and ask for information about Tobacco 21.

What if I have questions or need more information?
Call 311 and ask for information about Tobacco 21.


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