NYS Tobacco Control Policies

New York State (NYS) is a national leader in tobacco control policy. The state's strong and effective laws and regulations protect youth from deadly nicotine addiction by reducing access to tobacco and vaping products, protect New Yorkers from exposure to dangerous secondhand cigarette smoke and e-cigarette aerosol, and hold tobacco and vaping product manufacturers to transparency.

The Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA)

Almost all adults who smoke cigarettes started in their teens. Public Health Law 13-F, known as the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA), regulates the sale of tobacco and vaping products to restrict their access by youth and young adults. ATUPA violations can result in civil penalities or retailer registration suspension or revocation. Recent amendments:

  • Ban the Sale of Flavored Vapor Products

  • As of May 2020, Public Health Law Article 13-F Section 1399-MM-1 prohibits the sale of flavored vapor products that do not have an FDA marketing order. This includes menthol-flavored products and allows only tobacco-flavored vaping products to be sold.

  • End Price Discounts on Tobacco and Vapor Products

  • Effective July 1, 2020, Public Health Law Article 13-F Section 1399-BB ends marketing schemes to lower the price of tobacco and vapor products for consumers. Retailers are prohibited from accepting or honoring discounts, including the use of coupons or multipack price promotions.

  • End the Sales of Tobacco and Vaping Products in Pharmacies

  • As of May 2020, Public Health Law Article 13-F Section 1399-MM-2, pharmacies or retail establishments that contain a pharmacy may no longer sell tobacco and vaping products.

  • Ban the Exterior Display of Tobacco and Vapor Product Ads Near Schools

  • As of July 1, 2020, Public Health Law Article 13-F Section 1399-DD-1 restricts the public display of tobacco and vaping product advertisements and the display of smoking paraphernalia within 500 feet of school in New York City and within 1,500 feet of a school in the rest of the state.

  • Stop the Shipment and Delivery of Cigarettes and Vapor Products to Private Residents

  • In 2002, Public Health Law Article 13-F Section 1399-LL made it illegal for common or contract carriers such as FedEx®, UPS, and DHL to ship cigarettes to New York addresses, except to an address licensed to sell cigarettes. In 2020, the law was amended to restrict the shipment of vapor products to only registered vapor product dealers, export warehouse owners, or agents of the state or federal government in accordance with official duties. This amendment ends the shipment of online orders of vapor products to individual consumers, a primary way underage youth purchased vaping products. The national Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) of 2009 prohibits delivery of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through the U.S. Postal Service. These state and federal laws work together to curtail the sale of cigarettes, other tobacco products, and e-cigarettes over the internet and require internet sellers to affix tax stamps and pay all federal, state, local or Tribal tobacco taxes.

  • Increase Retailer Penalties for Tobacco Sales Violations

  • As of July 2020, an amendment to Public Health Law Article 13-F Section 1399-EE increases the penalties for illegally selling tobacco and vaping products to underage purchasers and other ATUPA violations. Penalties include increased monetary fines and registration suspensions and revocations.

  • Raise the Minimum Legal Sale Age to Purchase Tobacco and Vapor Products

  • Article 13-F Section 1399-CC of the NYS Public Health Law prohibited the sale of tobacco and vapor products and smoking paraphernalia to people under the age of 21.

    Retailers cannot sell cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, shisha or other tobacco products, herbal cigarettes, liquid nicotine, electronic cigarettes, rolling papers, or smoking paraphernalia to people under 21 years of age. Penalties for illegal sales to minors include fines, loss of license to sell lottery tickets, and loss of registration to sell tobacco and vapor products. Every registered tobacco retailer is assessed annually for compliance with this law. The 2017-2018 compliance rate was 94%.

    Tobacco and vapor product dealers: For more information, see A Guide for Retail Tobacco and Vapor Product Dealers and New York State's Youth Access Tobacco Control Laws (Public Health Law Article 13-F).

Other NYS Laws That Regulate the Sale of Tobacco and Vapor Products

Keep Tobacco Taxes High and Tax Vapor Products

NYS has one of the highest state cigarette taxes in the country. In 2010, NYS'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 (NYC) 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, NYC 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.

As of December 1, 2019, vapor products sold in NYS are taxed at 20% of the retail price. The tax is paid for by the person buying the product. The vapor product dealer is responsible for collecting the tax and paying and reporting it to the Department of Tax and Finance. For more information, see New York State Tax Law, Article 28-C.

Require Registration of Tobacco and Vapor Product Retailers and Wholesalers

Every retail dealer of cigarettes or tobacco products in NYS and every owner or operator of vending machines that sell cigarettes or tobacco products must register with the Department of Taxation and Finance. In 2019, 18,219 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.

Beginning December 1, 2019, every person who intends to sell vapor products in NYS must apply for and receive a certificate of registration from the Department of Taxation and Finance before selling them. Registration certificates are valid for one year and must be displayed. The law gives the State Health Department enforcement oversight to ensure compliance with all tobacco and e-cigarette laws, including adhering to the minimum legal sale age, display of approved signage, restricting the sale of flavored vaping products other than tobacco-flavored, and storing tobacco and vapor products out of consumers' reach. See New York State Tax Law, Article 28-C to learn more.

Prohibit Cigarette Sales Below Cost

Enacted in 1985, the Cigarette Marketing Standards Act (CMSA), Tax Law, Article 20-A, 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 2019, a national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) occurred. Laboratory data show that vitamin E acetate, an additive in some vaping products, is strongly linked to this outbreak. To increase oversight of vapor products through the distribution chain, regulations will be developed that:

Authorize the Health Commissioner to Regulate Harmful Carrier Oils in Vapor Products

Public Health Law Article 13-E Section 1399-MM-3 authorizes the State Health Commissioner to promulgate rules and regulations governing the sale and distribution of carrier oils that are suspected of causing acute illness and have been identified as a chemical of concern by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Require Vapor Product Manufacturers to Disclose Product Ingredients

Public Health Law Article 17 requires manufacturers of vapor products distributed, sold, or offered for sale in NYS, both retail or wholesale, to disclose the ingredients of vapor products, toxic metals in heating elements, and byproducts of the aerosol produced by the normal use of vaping products to the State Health Commissioner for public record and post these on their websites.

Additional NYS Laws to Prevent E-liquid- and Cigarette Smoking-related Injuries and Deaths

Liquid Nicotine (E-liquid) Packaging Requirement

All liquid nicotine (e-liquid) 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. See General Business Law, Article 26, Section 399-GG to read the law.

Cigarette Fire Safety Standards

Enacted in 2000 and implemented in 2004, the Cigarette Fire Safety Act, Executive Law Article 6-C Section 156-C, established fire safety standards for cigarettes sold in NYS. The act requires manufacturers to certify that all cigarettes they offer for sale in NYS meet a specific ignition propensity standard to prevent fires caused by burning cigarettes left unattended and particularly those held by smokers who fall asleep during use. NYS 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.

The Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA)

Enacted in 1989 and last amended in 2019, Public Health Law, Article 13-E, known as the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA,) prohibits the smoking of tobacco products and use of vapor products in nearly all indoor and certain outdoor public and workplaces. Exemptions are allowed for cigar bars in existence prior to December 31, 2002, for organizations that do not have employees, and for standalone vape shops that permit only the use of electronic cigarettes. Municipalities and counties may enact local laws that are stronger than state law. For comprehensive information on the Act, visit Clean Indoor Air Act.

Recent Amendments to the CIAA:

  • Library Grounds: Smoking is not permitted within 100 feet of any public or association library doorway.
  • Child Day Care Centers: Smoking and e-cigarette use is prohibited in any facility that provides child care services, including private homes, even when children receiving care are not present.
  • Hospitals and Residential Health Care Facilities Grounds: Smoking and e-cigarette use is prohibited within 15 feet of building doorways and entrances and exits of the grounds.
  • Playgrounds: Smoking and e-cigarette use are prohibited at New York playgrounds between sunrise and sunset when anyone under the age of 12 present. 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.

The New York State Tobacco Control Program works to create local environments open to policy, systems, and environmental changes that prevent tobacco and e-cigarette access by youth and eliminate exposure to toxic secondhand smoke and vaping aerosol. In addition to these state laws, many organizations, businesses, municipalities, and counties have adopted binding or nonbinding policies and resolutions that prohibit smoking and e-cigarette use. These policies include prohibiting smoking and e-cigarette use in multiunit housing; banning smoking, tobacco use, and e-cigarette use in additional outdoor spaces; restricting the number and location of stores that sell tobacco and e-cigarettes; prohibiting the acceptance of tobacco company funds or services; 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.