Lifelong Putnam resident Barbara Scuccimarra will be recognized as the 2019 Putnam Heart Walk Community Honoree for her work on the Tobacco 21 Law which passed last fall in Putnam County. She will be recognized at the American Heart Association’s Putnam Heart Walk, on Sunday, April 28th at Brewster High School.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the most expensive chronic condition. Tobacco use causes chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other forms of cancer. In New York State alone, more than half a million people currently have a disease caused by smoking, resulting in about $10.39 billion in health care expenditures annually.
The American Heart Association supports statewide tobacco 21, or T-21, legislation which changes the sale age of tobacco products, including vaping and cigarette products from 18 to 21. Putnam became the sixth Hudson Valley county to pass Tobacco 21 legislation in the past year. In the Hudson Valley, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester Counties now have similar laws. Scuccimarra was the T-21 bill sponsor in Putnam.
Scuccimarra has been married to her husband, Judge Thomas Scuccimarra, for 46 years and raised two children in Garrison. She has been a small business owner, community volunteer, and was a member of the Philipstown Town Board for four years. In January 2015, she was elected to Putnam County Legislature and held that position until January 2019.
She chaired the Health, Social, Education and Environmental Committee. Her work in this capacity led the County Executive to appoint her as chair of the “One Army in the War on Addiction” task force. The task force was formed to combat the opioid crisis facing our community and protect Putnam County citizens from addiction to other harmful substances. Its first initiative was the tobacco 21 law.
“Some people said that we could wait for the statewide law, but you have to take charge. It was a tough battle, it took a lot of convincing, but we did it,” Scuccimarra said of the law passage, “It was a team effort by our task force and our first initiative. Right off the bat, we knew we had to do it because the vaping epidemic is a big problem in our schools. All the health organizations like American Heart Association came out and were an important force behind us. It really was a team effort.”
“I’ve attended every Heart Walk since serving in office, so I was thrilled when they told me I’d be honored for this work at the Heart Walk. I’m touched, but it really was a team effort by the Task Force,” she said.
Funds raised through the Putnam Heart Walk help to support the research, awareness, and advocacy work of the American Heart Association that help save lives from cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke – the number one and five killers in the U.S.
Local residents can join the Heart Walk as individuals or as a team of friends, co-workers or family. Registration is open at www.putnamheartwalk.org. For more information, contact Megan Lucas, 203-984-9128 or by email at [email protected].
The Heart Walk is sponsored by Dr. Patrick W. Thomas and Mrs. Johanna D. Thomas, PCSB Bank, Putnam Hospital Center, and media sponsors Examiner Media, Mahopac News, Hudson Valley Magazine, and WHUD Radio.