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Randy Kovar, Tobacco 21 Advocate of the Month


For Tobacco 21, our message is spread to communities through advocates who are as passionate about the cause as we are. For North Wantagh, N.Y., resident Randy Kovar, Tobacco 21 is a cause that he advocates not only in his own community, but he urges a change to raise the age all over the country.

“Tobacco 21 is so important to our communities due to the fact that it will save lives,” Kovar said. “I among many people support the evidence of the advantages of raising the purchase and consumption age of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and all forms of tobacco products up to 21. The opponents of this measure will be on the wrong side of history as this project continues.”

Kovar lives and works in Nassau County, which is adjacent to the New York City borough of Queens. New York City implemented Tobacco 21 in May 2014, and Nassau County’s tobacco purchase age is set at 19 years of age. Although a previous Tobacco 21 initiative had failed in Nassau County, Kovar is persistent in his efforts to raising the age in his county and protecting future generations of Long Islanders.

“I believe it will saves the lives of many young people from starting the filthy habit at such a young age,” Kovar said.

As a long-time Tobacco 21 advocate, Kovar is optimistic about the future of Tobacco 21 in Nassau County and communities across the country. His key advice is persistence and never giving up.

“My advice to current and future advocates is that if they feel strongly about raising the age of this product to 21 is to stand your ground and not ever give up,” Kovar said. “I urge them to call their elected officials and talk to their friends and neighbors and take it to social media. I know personally is that I will not ever change my mind or back down from pursuing this issue. I am staying with it.”

If you’d like to become an advocate in your community like Randy, download our advocacy materials HERE!

What Is Tobacco 21?

Tobacco 21 is a national campaign taking a local approach to raising the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 years of age. Established in 1996, Tobacco 21 and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation strive to reduce smoking and tobacco use through a preventive effort locally and on the state level all over the United States and American territories such as Guam. Over 220 cities and two states, Hawaii and California, have already raised the age, and your city or state could be next!

Why 21?

The younger the buyer is, the less likely they are to achieve a purchase even with current shoddy enforcement. Moreover, most social sources of tobacco for teens are themselves younger than 21. Age 21 reduces initiation in younger kids and inhibits consolidation of addiction in older teens.

The National Youth Tobacco Survey reports that in 2014 overall use of tobacco among youth rose, exposing dangerous new trends. Clever marketing by the tobacco industry, pushing small cigars, hookahs, e-cigarettes, and flavored vaping products, has put millions of young people at risk of lifelong lethal nicotine addiction.

We’ve also learned a lot from the age restriction on alcohol. After the age was raised to 21 in all states, total drinking by high school seniors dropped by 38 percent, binge drinking fell by a similar amount, and daily drinking fell by half. Enforcement remains spotty and drinking by teenagers remains a serious problem, but those gains persist even today among teens. Most significantly, today’s 30 year-olds also drink at a significantly lower rate than those of a generation ago.

Clearly, not all of this effect was due to increasing the legal drinking age. Many other forces were also at work. However, a study examining just those states where the legal drinking age was raised shows a significant effect.

Want to Get Involved?

You can get involved by educating you and your peers on the Tobacco 21 movement and present your concerns about teen tobacco use to your local governing bodies such as a City Council or State Representative. You can also request an Advocacy Kit from Tobacco 21 with everything you need to know about the movement.