Our Government Relations Director Caitlin O’Brien has an update from Essex County, where the board of supervisors will vote again on Tobacco 21 on Sept. 4. Will you help? The list of legislators to contact is at the bottom of Caitlin’s update.
The American Heart Association is thrilled to see Tobacco 21 getting a second chance in Essex County. Tobacco 21 would raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21.
Tobacco and e-cigarette use remains a deadly addiction, one that is not going away on its own. 73,000 New York high schoolers currently smoke, and 10,600 high school students become daily smokers each year. This sets them up for a lifetime of chronic, often fatal diseases.
Across the state, Tobacco 21 is very popular. We know that 23 localities across the State have enacted their own Tobacco 21 laws – a major accomplishment. This means roughly 75% of New Yorkers live in an area where youth are protected from the tactics of the tobacco industry.
We also know why Tobacco 21 is so popular, and it’s because it works. Tobacco 21 will successfully prevent young adults from ever picking up their first tobacco product. We have the science to prove it. A 2015 report form the Institute of Medicine found that raising the legal sales age of tobacco products to 21 would reduce the smoking rate by 12%. The Institute of Medicine also looked into the impact raising the age to 19 would have. They found it to be minimal.
By increasing the purchase age, high school students will have a harder time getting tobacco products and giving them to their younger friends. Simply put, kids in high school do not “hang out” with 21-year-olds.
It’s important to point out the important role local governments play, especially given the inaction at the state level. Until we see a state-wide Tobacco 21 policy, it is the job of local governments, like the Essex County Board of Supervisors, to step in and issue the necessary public health protections.
Will you join us in asking the Essex County Board of Supervisors to pass Tobacco 21? Tobacco 21 is on the agenda for Sept. 4. Simply send an email to the addresses of the Board of Supervisors, listed below, with this sentence: Please save lives by pasting Tobacco 21 in Essex County.
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