The American Heart Association is asking Putnam County legislators to take up Tobacco 21 legislation to help save lives and money in Putnam. The Association advocated for similar legislation in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties—all have passed laws to increase the purchase age of tobacco products to 21 from 18.
“Passing Tobacco 21 in Putnam County will help prevent young adults from ever picking up their first cigarette. It takes tobacco products out of the hands of teenagers at an age when they are most likely to be influenced by peer pressure. Tobacco 21 is how we can help create future smoke-free generations,” said Caitlin O’Brien, American Heart Association Government Relations Director.
“With youth use rates of electronic cigarettes, including JUUL’s doubling in two years, our residents need this legislation. An alarming 20% of high school students have tried an e-cigarette, and due to the lack of a social stigma, high schoolers, and even middle schoolers are becoming addicted,” she said.
The Association says the same, if not more nicotine is contained in e-cigarettes than a pack of cigarettes. Nicotine is an addictive substance.
“We are asking the Putnam County Legislature to please support this common-sense and fiscally responsible measure,” said O’Brien, “When there are lower rates of tobacco use, there are lower healthcare costs. Because of the numerous diseases and disabilities associated with smoking, New Yorkers pay $10.4 billion dollars in health care cost. Not mention, state and local Medicaid covers $3.3 billion.”
“E-cigarette liquid is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes and comes in candy flavors like Swedish Fish and Blue Raspberry. It is targeted toward children and teens to get them addicted,” she said.
A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine states that raising the tobacco sale age will reduce the smoking rate by 12%. The AHA says that 96% of smokers begin before age 21, and if a young person reaches the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to two percent.
Support for Tobacco 21 is widespread, with 72% of New Yorkers (69% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats) in favor raising the legal sales age of tobacco products, as found in a state-wide survey done by Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
Other health groups like the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association support Tobacco 21 laws to help prevent smoking and tobacco-related illnesses.
The American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots advocacy network fights for better health for our community. For more information, visit www.yourethecure.org.