Bill sponsor James DiSalvo, a Highland Falls Republican, said even if only a handful of lives can be saved by keeping young people away from smoking, the effort will have been worthwhile.
Legislator Chris Eachus, D-New Windsor, said the next step in the effort to keep tobacco out of the hands of young people is to enact a local law to move tobacco advertising out of their line of sight.
There currently are nine other counties in New York state where the minimum age for buying tobacco products is 21: Albany, Schenectady, Chautauqua, Suffolk and the five counties that make up New York City. In Onondaga and Nassau counties, the minimum age is 19. All other New York counties allow the purchases at age 18.
“Columbus City Council members passed the “Tobacco 21” bill on Monday, 7-0. The legislation was sponsored by President Pro Tem Priscilla Tyson.
Dr. Rob Crane said this new law is a prevention tool that really works. He’s a clinical professor at The Ohio State University, as well as founder and president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.
“I think we introduced the first legislation in Ohio 20 years ago,” he said. “It took a long time to kind of get traction, but now that we have several reports from the Surgeon General, from the Institute of Medicine, we really see the science behind this.”
He cites the book, “Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products,” which was a study requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 2013.
“Moving tobacco to 21 will save according to this book, about 4.2 million years of life just among kids alive today,” said Dr. Crane. “Studies in Massachusetts have shown that it reduces high school smoking by about half.””
“Tobacco 21 laws that include ENDS should reduce initiation of these products among youth, similar to the suggested impact MLSA laws will have on initiation patterns for cigarettes.Reduced initiation of ENDS through MLSA laws may result in reduced initiation of cigarettes, and it may also result in delayed initiation of cigarette use, because the evidence for ENDS serving as a gateway to cigarette use is increasing. 4, 14 Regardless, it is plausible to predict that local, state, or federal MLSA laws would have a critical role in substantially reducing nicotine exposure among adolescents and young adults, particularly those aged 15 to 17 years.”
“[County Commissioner] Sid Leiken made a logical-sounding argument when he declined to join his four colleagues on the Lane County Board of Commissioners [Health] in voting to direct the county staff to prepare an ordinance raising the age for legal tobacco sales to 21 from 18. Leiken said Lane County shouldn’t make itself an “island” — action to raise the minimum age ought to come at the state level.
Leiken is right; Oregon should join California and Hawaii in banning tobacco sales to people younger than 21. But in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with becoming an island of rational public-health policy.
In fact, islands can be healthful places to live. In 2005 the city of Needham, Mass., became the first jurisdiction in the United States to raise the age for legal tobacco purchases to 21. Skeptics scoffed that teenagers could simply buy cigarettes in any of a dozen neighboring Boston suburbs. But by 2010, smoking among high school students in Needham had dropped by more than half, while the rates in nearby towns showed only slight declines. Needham had made itself an island of addiction avoidance.”