To the editor:
On Sept. 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed two new laws to help protect New York state's children and teens from the harmful effects of tobacco and addictive properties of nicotine. One of the laws includes actions that prohibit smoking within 100 feet of the entrances or exits of any public or private schools. The other bans the sale of electronic cigarettes to people under the age of 18.
These steps are crucial in the progress to protect the youth in our communities. Although smoking on school properties has been banned in New York state since 1994, children can still be exposed to secondhand smoke if a school building is located close to other public or private properties. The restriction on smoking near schools helps children, teens and families enjoy clean, tobacco-free air. They also help to prevent smoking-related illnesses associated with secondhand smoke like asthma, colds, bronchitis or ear infections.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, contain nicotine, which is the addictive substance in tobacco products. Some e-cigarette companies are trying to market their products as a "safer" cigarette, but those claims are not approved or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The health consequences of e-cigarettes are not known at this time. It showed important leadership that Gov. Cuomo approved eliminating minors' access to e-cigarettes. Before this legislation, e-cigarettes were unregulated and accessible to all ages.
After recently attending the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Kansas City, Mo., I learned that New York state is viewed nationally as a leader in helping to protect its youth from the dangerous health effects of tobacco. We need to continue this work, and I applaud the New York state legislators who supported these laws.
Tobacco control program assistant
Clinton County Health Department
Adirondack Tobacco Free Network