Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images

As of Wednesday, the legal age to purchase tobacco and electronic cigarettes in the state of New York has gone up from 18 to 21 years old, NBC 4 reports.

Background: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law this summer in an attempt to curtail health threats associated with the use of tobacco products. The Health Department and New York State Police will perform undercover retail checks to determine where vaping products are sold to underage youth, according to a press release cited by CNN.

The big picture: Smoking, specifically via vape products, has been under attack in recent months as the medical community scurries to learn more about illnesses affecting e-cigarette users. There are 39 reported deaths related to vape products and over 2,000 reported cases of the mysterious illness.

  • Federal health officials recently identified vitamin E acetate as a potential culprit for the illness. The substance has been found in the lung fluids of 29 patients suffering from the sickness.

Between the lines: Vaping concerns have largely focused on young people. Whereas cigarette smoking was in decline for teens and young adults, vaping has surged in popularity — particularly with flavored liquids.

  • The New York Department of Health reports that nearly 40% of high school seniors are using e-cigarettes, while 27% of the state's high schoolers are vaping.
  • Cuomo has pushed to ban flavored e-cigs, but a state appellate court blocked New York's ban on all flavored electronic cigarettes the first week of October.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 29 mins ago - World

At least 50 killed, 3,000 injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: The cause of the explosion is unknown. Lebanon's health minister said in televised remarks that more than 50 people have been killed and over 3,000 injured.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

The debate over COVID-19 liability protections

Stimulus talks continue to move slowly, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on whether or not to include coronavirus-related liability protections for businesses, health facilities and schools.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the debate, which could reset the cost-benefit analysis for businesses thinking about reopening and employees thinking about returning.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 18,364,694 — Total deaths: 695,848 — Total recoveries — 10,965,634Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 4,742,277 — Total deaths: 156,133 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. States: New York City health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response — New York ER doctor on pandemic advice: "We know what works"
  4. Public health: 59% of Americans support nationwide 2-week stay-at-home order in NPR poll Atrium Health CEO says "virtual hospital" has treated 13,000 COVID patients.
  5. Politics: Republicans push to expand small business loan program Trump tells "Axios on HBO" that pandemic is "under control," despite surges in infections.
  6. Sports: Indy 500 to be held without fansRafael Nadal opts out of U.S. Open.