Schenectady County voted for good health by passing ‘Tobacco 21’

Advocates at passage
Health advocates celebrate Schenectady County’s passage of Bill A-16, ‘Tobacco 21,’ with Vice Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature, Karen Johnson, third from right, on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

By prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, the Schenectady County Legislature has acted to save lives and improve the health of county residents. Passage of Bill A-16 on Tuesday, Aug. 9, will help fight chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and all forms of cancer – and sends a powerful message to other counties and cities throughout the state and country.

Schenectady is now the fifth county in New York, plus New York City, to pass this measure. Nationwide, more than 184 localities, plus the states of California and Hawaii, have passed Tobacco 21 laws.

Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and tonight’s vote shows that the Schenectady County Legislature is invested in the health of its residents,” said Dr. Mandeep Sidhu, cardiologist, assistant dean for medical education and student research at Albany Medical Center, and president of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association.  “The American Heart Association thanks Vice Chair of the Legislature Karen Johnson for introducing this important measure, and looks forward to improved health among Schenectady County Residents.”

“Some 13,200 New York State residents will hear the horrifying news this year that they have lung cancer. Research shows that if a person does not begin smoking at a young age, they are much less likely to ever smoke,” said Julianne Hart, director, New York Government Relations, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Tobacco continues to claim too many lives and is the leading cause of preventable death. We thank the Schenectady County Legislature and bill sponsor Karen Johnson for acting to save lives and also dramatically cut health care costs.”

“The Lung Association applauds Schenectady County for joining Albany County, Cortland County, New York City, Chautauqua County, and Suffolk County in implementing laws raising the legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 years old,” said Jeff Seyler, president & CEO, American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Over 50% of New York’s population is covered by laws where the legal sales age is 21 years old.  It’s imperative that the New York State legislature prioritize the health of young adults and act to save lives across the state.”

“Science has shown us that delaying youth initiation to smoking, reduces the likelihood of ever starting,” said Judy Rightmyer, director, Capital District Tobacco Free Coalition. “With this new law, Schenectady County will prevent hundreds of young people from starting a lifetime of addiction.”

“We applaud Schenectady’s leaders for increasing the tobacco age to 21, a critical step to reduce youth tobacco use and help make the next generation tobacco-free,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Nationally, we know that 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. So if we can get them to 21 without having smoked, they almost certainly never will.

According to a Siena Poll in December 2015, 59% of Schenectady county residents strongly supported raising the purchase age to 21.


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