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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

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

"She-cession" threatens economic recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.

Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.

The Week America Changed

Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Image

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.