Today, Sept. 4, the Essex County Board of Supervisors took an important step in protecting the youth of the county by raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21. This is the first county in the North Country to pass the measure.

The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society applauded the board’s action.

Bob Elling, paramedic, resident of Essex County and member of the American Heart Association’s New York State Advocacy Committee, attended the meeting, and has been a staunch advocate of Tobacco 21.

“We know that the use of e-cigarettes – especially JUUL’s – has increased dramatically in all of New York state, and I am glad that the board of supervisors saw the importance of keeping all tobacco products out of the hands of our youth,” Elling said. “An Institute of Medicine report shows that by increasing the sales age of tobacco products to 21, there will be a 12 percent reduction in the smoking rate. Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic diseases. Keeping tobacco products away from our youth sets them up for longer, healthier lives.”

“Tobacco 21 just makes sense. It can improve health and help combat the huge health costs of smoking,” said Julie Hart, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network New York Government Relations Director. “We are thrilled Essex County is leading the way in the North Country by putting health before special interest groups.”

With Essex County’s passage of Tobacco 21, there are now 23 local jurisdictions in the state that have passed the measure.