For decades, the legal age to buy tobacco products has been set at 18, three years younger than the legal age to buy alcohol. In Cattaraugus County, New York, though, that could be changing. The county is voting on a law to raise the age to 21 and the measure is expected to pass.

A Public Voice

The lawmakers are apparently anticipating that the public will have questions. They're going to vote on the law and on whether or not it would be a good idea to hold a public hearing next month. If they decide that a hearing is needed, they will meet back up later in August to set the exact date and time.

Saving Lives

So, after years of the same cutoff age, what is spurring the change now? Those who support the law say that they're just trying to save lives. They've said that it's worth making the change even if they save only one person. They did acknowledge that they were expecting the opposition to say that young smokers would still be able to get cigarettes, just like those under 21 are able to get alcohol, but they said it could still help stop addiction. If it pushed back the average age at which people started smoking, they claim it would be easier for those people to quit.

Electronic Cigarettes

One important thing to note about the proposal is that it would go beyond just traditional cigarettes and would include e-cigarettes. These are often used by those who are health conscious because they don't involve actual smoke and so may reduce the risk of cancer and other health issues.

Long-Standing Laws

This may just be a local law for a small area, but it's an important move to keep an eye on, as it would change some very long-standing laws. Should it go though, people need to know what rights they have and what penalties they may face for breaking the new law. It will also be interesting to see if the movement picks up steam and potentially spreads to other counties and states.