Nine out of ten cigarette smokers start the habit in their teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

That's one reason the age to buy tobacco products is now up to 21-years-old statewide.

The Institute of Medicine predicts raising the age could reduce overall smoking by 12% within the next couple of years, with the biggest decline seen among teenagers.


"I've been an off and on smoker since I was 16,” said Devin Seymour, a Syracuse University senior.

Now 26, Seymour struggles to quit smoking.

"I kind of wish when I was 17 and 18-years-old, my friends that just turned 18 couldn't just go snag packs for me because maybe I wouldn't be dealing with this,” said Seymour.

"90% of high school age kids report getting their tobacco products from their friends who are between the age 18-20,” said Christopher Owens, the St. Joseph's Health CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems director.

However, it’s a trend that will no longer exist. Now that New York State lawmakers changed the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

"It's a really good step in stopping the epidemic,” said Carly Deo, a Syracuse University senior. “I have a lot of friends who never would have considered smoking cigarettes growing up and then they gained access to the e-cigarettes."

Owens says not only will this improve the health of young smokers, but those who don't touch tobacco will benefit too.

"The tax burden per household in New York State is almost $1,500 to treat tobacco-related diseases,” said Owens. “So, it has true implications for all New York State residents."

However, some are against the law. They say if 18-year-olds can join the military, they should have the option to smoke.

"When I was in the military, smoking really affected my ability to run and stay in shape,” said Seymour. “It's something I wish I would have never had to deal with. Every aspect of your life is better when you don't smoke cigarettes."

New York is one of 18 states to raise the age. Several local counties had already enforced the law, including Onondaga, Cortland and Tompkins.

If businesses violate the tobacco law, owners can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation, and their tobacco license can be revoked for repeat violations.