Today is the day that the age for purchasing tobacco in New York state raises from 18 to 21.

Let's hope it works.

Society has been working to end smoking and smoking-related diseases for decades, and yet, it remains a difficult fight.

Smoking is a nasty, nasty addiction that many people just cannot overcome.

It leads to financial hardship, anti-social practices and countless diseases and deaths.

So the trick is to never start.

Laws are often approved with the aim of getting people to quit or never start.

No smoking in public places, including bars, was a big step taken about two decades ago that most people remember.

Did it force some people to stop smoking, and did it prevent some people from ever starting?

Hard to say definitively, but we know that the result of having cleaner, smoke-free public environments has been a big hit with most of the public.

Raising the age to purchase tobacco as well as e-cigarettes to 21 seems like it will have a positive effect.

No doubt with the age of purchase at 18, there have been many 16- and 17-year-olds who have been able to buy smokes without any questioning at retail stores.

Now, retailers will have to take a harder look at their customers and ask for identification if the buyer's age seems in doubt.

Many retailers are not overly concerned about the higher age affecting their sales. They figure smokers and vapers will still find a way to get their product in the end.

Police are also not likely to implement an all-out mission to check smoker's ages, leaving it to the retailers to handle as enforcement is likely to mainly be driven by complaints.

New York will not be the first to raise the age of tobacco and e-cigarette purchasers.

Eighteen states and hundreds of municipalities already have similar laws on the books.

In this state alone, 15 counties and New York City already have 21 as the minimum age.

Hopefully the days of adult smokers sending their teen-age children down to the corner store for a pack are long gone.

The new law should see to that, if that still happens.

Anti-smoking professionals who make a living trying to get people to quit or not even start, are praising the new law, as they should.

Healthcare providers need every tool they can find to help them in their daily battle.

With studies showing that 95 percent of smokers begin the habit before they are 21, the new age is directly aimed at a vulnerable group.

In recent years, vaping has become an alternative to smoking for adults and younger folks.

Vaping products also cannot be purchased after today unless you are 21.

Vaping remains controversial as some believe it is a much safer alternative to cigarettes, and others point to the many illnesses and even deaths that have been attributed to vaping.

To be safe, smokers should take advantage of the many programs that exist to help them quit, and non-smokers will do well to never start, especially teens.

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