Tobacco 21 was part of the State of the State

 In today’s State of the State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled an important step in the campaign to protect New York’s youth from the dangers of smoking and e-cigarette use.

By raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, New York State can change the narrative pushed on youth by Big Tobacco.

“Electronic cigarette use among youth doubled between 2014 and 2016, from 10.5% to 20.6%, and is continuing to rise. This means every day, more kids are increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke,” said Caitlin O’Brien, New York State Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “We have long known that if people don’t use tobacco products by the time they are 21, their chances of doing so drop to only 2 percent.  Gov. Cuomo’s recognition of the public health benefits associated with Tobacco 21 couldn’t come at a better time.”

“Youth need to realize that while flavored like their favorite candy, these products actually contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes,” O’Brien said. “Sweeping tobacco reforms are imperative to preventing deadly addiction and the numerous diseases and disabilities associated with its use.”

The American Heart Association also hopes that that the 2019 Legislative Session brings initiatives to improve access to healthy foods and nutrition, and physical activity in schools.

“We are glad to see that Gov. Cuomo plans to prioritize education for this coming year. The academic performance and physical wellness of children go hand in hand, so focusing on strengthening school wellness policies in New York makes sense,” O’Brien said.

Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans. The American Heart Association’s mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.