Monroe County Legislators LaShay Harris, D-Rochester; Cindy Kaleh, minority leader, D-Rochester; Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, assistant minority leader, D-Rochester; Vincent Felder, D-Rochester; and Howard Maffucci, D-Pittsford, East Rochester and Brighton, announced legislation that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products in Monroe County to 21.
They were joined by Alexandra Popovici, of the Smoking and Health Action Coalition; Marc Natale, of the American Heart and Stroke Association; and Jennifer Faringer, of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of the Rochester Area, to support the passage of this policy change.
“The health risks posed by smoking and other tobacco products are well documented. However, the risks to young people are even greater because tobacco impairs some cognitive development and puts them at risk for future addiction issues. Reducing the availability of these dangerous products makes our children healthier and that is why we are acting in Monroe County,” said Harris. “We are joining other counties and municipalities that have decided we can’t wait for New York State to act on this vital health initiative. I look forward to continuing to push this through the legislative process.”
“I would like to thank Legislator Harris for introducing this important policy initiative and the groups that have been pushing across the state to make it a reality,” said Kaleh. “Raising the age to buy tobacco products will have a positive impact on the lives of young people in our community and make Monroe County a healthier place.”
“The emergence of e-cigarettes in our community has exposed youth to high levels of nicotine, as one in five high school students in Monroe County now use e-cigarettes,” said Popovici. “Evidence suggests adolescents obtain these products through social circles and older classmates, therefore limiting the accessibility of these products is crucial to prevent use, initiation and addiction amongst youth.”
“Tobacco use still persists as the leading preventable cause of heart disease and stroke,” said Marc Natale, executive director of the American Heart and Stroke Association. “Passing Tobacco 21 is a great way to change that statistic because when youth reach the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to 2 percent. Monroe County’s attention to this new tobacco policy intervention strengthens current efforts to build a healthier community and can build upon the existing science in support of tobacco control policies.”
“I applaud Legislator Harris for her efforts on this issue,” said Felder. “While it is surprising tobacco products are legal at all given their well-known health risks, we should be doing all we can to keep them out of the hands of children.”