THIS WEEK, Tobacco 21 was a priority for American Heart Association, American Lung Association and New York State Public Health advocates as they gathered at the Capitol
Cardiologist, former smoker, teen among the 50 volunteers, who asked their legislators to protect the state’s youth by raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco to 21 this week
The statistics are grim:
- Roughly 28,000 New Yorkers die of smoking-related illnesses each year
- Half a million New Yorkers live with serious smoking-caused illnesses and disabilities
- More than 10,600 NY kids under the age of 18 become new smokers each year
On, Tuesday, May 8, on the third floor of the Legislative Office Building, 198 State St., Albany, 50 advocates gathered from the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the New York State Public Health Association at the Capitol working to build a future with different statistics by asking their legislators to pass Tobacco 21.
The Tobacco 21 bill is S3978/A273, sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan.
Cardiologist Dr. Mandeep Sidhu, president of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association, was among those pushing for the law that will raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco to 21.
“I see the devastation that smoking causes nearly every day,”” Dr. Sidhu said. If someone reaches the age of 21. It’s critical that the whole state be covered by this law, which can ultimately save a lot of lives.
“I started smoking when I was 16 and was able to get cigarettes from people just a few years older than me, said Theresa Petrone Butts, now 34, a former smoker and incoming chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. It got so easy when I was 18 and could purchase them legally. Quitting was hard, and of course, I wish I had never started. The American Heart Association is committed to protecting our youth by making sure this deadly habit is a hard one to start.”
“Tobacco use continues to be the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in New York State, said Michael Seserman, co-chair of the New York State Public Health Association. Increasing the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21 will ultimately save thousands of lives each year given that 95% of smokers start before they are 21, when they are most easily addicted.”
In nearly 60% of New York State, you must be over 21 to purchase a tobacco product, said Kristina Wieneke, director, public policy in New York, American Lung Association. The passage of these local laws is a clear directive from the people of New York to Albany to raise the age of sale throughout the state and protect our children from tobacco. A comprehensive statewide law increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly strengthen local laws, reduce youth tobacco use, and save thousands of lives.
“The key to reducing the number of people who smoke is preventing initiation of the use of tobacco in the first place, said Sen. Savino. If we can delay children’s and young adults access to tobacco products, we can greatly reduce the likelihood that they ever start smoking. Raising the smoking age to 21 will go a long way to removing cigarettes from high schools and will help eliminate a common source of tobacco for young adults. Our legislation will help prevent a generation of New Yorkers from becoming addicted to smoking, which will ultimately save thousands of lives.”
“The research is indisputable: the majority of habitual adult smokers pick up the habit before the age of 21. Raising the smoking age is one of the most effective steps we can take to prevent the next generation of young people from ever picking up that first cigarette and developing a habit that will kill them, said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D – Manhattan). More than 50 percent of the state’s population is already covered by a local law increasing the smoking age to 21-years-old, so it’s time for the state to act to create a uniform statewide standard.”
Media Contact: Jackie.Mangione@heart.org or (585) 967-7749 (cell)
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, visit heart.org/rochesterny or call 585.371.3112. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke, the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the Association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.