Time for tobacco buying age to be 21 statewide

To the editor:

Gov. Cuomo’s inclusion of tobacco prevention measures in the 2019 proposed budget protects our youth from the ill effects of tobacco use.

As a volunteer with the American Heart Association, I’m proud that we have long advocated for anti-tobacco measures. We are glad to see that the proposed budget includes:

¯ raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21

¯ banning tobacco sales in pharmacies

¯ banning the sales of flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol.

These measures could spare youth the potentially deadly effects of a lifelong smoking habit. While the tobacco industry has done a good job marketing these products to youth through candy flavors and the false idea that they don’t contain nicotine, the truth is, most contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

Adolescent brains aren’t fully developed until age 25, giving nicotine an incredibly impactful influence on cognitive functions, including the area of the brain related to addiction.

Importantly, we know that Tobacco 21 will be successful. A 2015 study from the Institute of Medicine shows that passing a Tobacco 21 law can stop young adults from picking up their first cigarettes. It also makes it harder for high school students to purchase tobacco and pass it on to younger friends.

Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and the leading cause of preventable death. Simply put, tobacco control measures that reduce smoking rates save lives.

A number of counties, such as Essex County, have enacted local laws already, but it is now time this be a statewide law.

I am glad to see the governor proposing statewide action.


Bob Elling

Paramedic and AHA volunteer

Lake Placid