Tobacco Control Policies in NYS

New York is a leader in tobacco control policy development and implementation, with many strong and effective tobacco control policies in place at the state and local levels. State laws related to tobacco include:

High Taxes on Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products

New York has one of the highest state cigarette taxes in the United States. In 2010, New York's cigarette excise tax increased to $4.35 per pack of 20 cigarettes or little cigars. The tax on moist snuff is $2.00 per ounce and the tax on cigars and other tobacco products is 75% of wholesale value. Localities may levy additional tobacco taxes with the approval of the state legislature. New York City also imposes a local tax on cigarettes at $1.50 per pack, bringing the combined state and local tax to $5.85, the second highest in the nation. As of June 1, 2018, New York City Local Law 145 requires retailers sell cigarettes for a minimum retail price of $13.00 per pack, the highest pack price in the U.S.

Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA)

Enacted in 1992 and funded at $2.5 million in 1997, Article 13-F of the NYS Public Health Law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors (under the age of 18). Amendments to ATUPA have clarified and expanded the definition of tobacco products, which include cigarettes, loose cigarettes, cigars, bidis, gutka, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, nicotine water, herbal cigarettes, shisha, smoking paraphernalia and e-cigarettes and similar devices. Penalties for illegal sales to minors include fines, loss of license to sell lottery tickets and loss of license to sell tobacco products. Every licensed tobacco retailer is assessed annually for compliance with this law. The 2013-2014 compliance rate was 95 percent. Municipalities may establish a higher minimum age of sale. The minimum legal sale age (MLSA) for tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in New York City and Albany, Cattaragus, Chautauqua, Cortland, Nassau, Onondaga, Orange, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tompkins, Ulster and Westchester counties is 21.

Tobacco Retailers: Section 1399-ee of the Public Health Law allows tobacco retailers a reduced penalty for a sale-to-minor violation if the clerk who made the sale previously attended a State Certified Tobacco Sales Training course and holds a valid certificate of completion. Learn more at NYS Certified Tobacco Sales Training Programs.

Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA)

Enacted in 1989 and last amended in October 2017, the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA), Public Health Law, Article 13-E, prohibits the smoking of tobacco (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipe or any other matter or substance containing tobacco) in nearly all indoor and certain outdoor public and work places. Effective November 22, 2017, the law also applies to vaping, which is the use of electronic cigarettes and similar devices. Exemptions are allowed for cigar bars in existence prior to December 31, 2002, for organizations that do not have employees and, effective November 22, 2107, retail electronic cigarette stores, provided that such stores only permit the use of electronic cigarettes. Municipalities may enact local laws that are stronger than state law.

Smoking and Vaping Prohibited on Hospitals and Residential Health Care Facilities Grounds

This amendment to the New York State Public Health Law prohibits smoking outdoors on the grounds of hospitals and residential health care facilities. Smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit and within 15 feet of the entrance to or exit from the grounds. Effective November 22, 2017, the law also prohibits vaping (use of electronic cigarettes and similar devices).

Smoking and Vaping Prohibited at Playgrounds

This amendment to the New York State Public Health Law prohibits smoking at New York playgrounds (as defined by the law) between sunrise and sunset when anyone under the age of twelve is present. Effective November 22, 2017, the law also prohibits vaping (use of electronic cigarettes and similar devices). The law does not apply to New York City playgrounds, athletic fields, courts or playgrounds, and playground equipment constructed on one, two and three-family residential properties. County boards of health, county health districts or designated officials are responsible for enforcing the law.

Liquid Nicotine Sales and Packaging

Prohibits the sale of liquid nicotine to minors (under the age of 21 in New York City and Albany, Cattaragus, Chautauqua, Cortland, Onondaga, Orange, Schenectady, Suffolk, Sullivan and Tompkins counties, under age 19 in Nassau County and under 18 in the rest of the state). Businesses that sell liquid nicotine are required to have specific signage indicating that the sale of this product to minors is prohibited. All liquid nicotine must be packaged in a child-resistant bottle designed to prevent accidental exposure. Violators are subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.

Cigarette Fire Safety Act

Enacted in 2000 and implemented in 2004, the act requires manufacturers to certify that all cigarettes they offer for sale in New York meet a specific ignition propensity standard. New York State was the first jurisdiction in the world to establish such a requirement. Cigarette-caused fires and deaths have declined since the implementation of the law.

Placement of Tobacco Products in Retail Stores

New York law requires all tobacco products to be located within stores out of reach of consumers. Self-service displays are prohibited. Tobacco products must be located behind the counter or in a locked cabinet.

Registration and Licensing of Tobacco Retailers and Wholesalers

Every retail dealer of cigarettes or tobacco products in New York State and every owner or operator of vending machines that sell cigarettes or tobacco products must register with the Department of Taxation and Finance. In 2017, 21,314 tobacco retailers were registered with the NYS Department of Tax and Finance. Cigarette wholesalers, retailers and distributors also must be licensed. Municipalities may establish their own licensing requirements.

Shipping of Cigarettes

A 2002 New York State law made it illegal for common carriers such as FedEx®, UPS and DHL to ship cigarettes to New York addresses, except to an address licensed to sell cigarettes. The 2010 National Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act prohibits delivery of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through the U.S. Postal Service. These laws work to curtail the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products over the internet, and require internet sellers to affix tax stamps and pay all federal, state, local or Tribal tobacco taxes.

Cigarette Marketing Standards Act (CMSA)

Enacted in 1985, the act prohibits the sale of cigarettes below cost and makes it illegal for retailers to intentionally avoid the collection or payment of taxes. The CMSA includes fines and penalties for violations.

In addition to these state laws, many organizations, businesses and municipalities have adopted binding or nonbinding policies and resolutions that prohibit smoking. These policies include prohibiting smoking in multiunit housing complexes, banning smoking and tobacco use in outdoor spaces, prohibiting the acceptance of tobacco company funds or services, opposing retail (point of sale) tobacco marketing and advertising, and working to reduce the impact of adolescent exposure to smoking in movies and on the internet.

For more information on tobacco control policy solutions, visit the Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center.