NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Starting today, you must be 21 years old, or older, to purchase tobacco products in New York State.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 back in July.

“New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people,” he said in a statement on July 16. “By raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, we can stop cigarettes and e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of young people in the first place and prevent an entire generation of New Yorkers from forming costly and potentially deadly addictions.”

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The state health department says nearly 40% of 12th grade students and 27% of all high schoolers are now using e-cigarettes. Officials believe the increase has largely been driven by flavored e-liquids.

The governor and state lawmakers pushed to ban flavored e-cigarettes in September, but a court temporarily blocked their efforts.

The Surgeon General says 88% of adult smokers began using tobacco as minors, and 90% of those who purchase cigarettes for minors are between the ages of 18 and 20 years old.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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