The state Legislature left Albany without listening to the will of the people, and left a measure to reduce the risk of death and disease on the table.
“We are so disappointed in our elected representatives that they didn’t pass Tobacco 21,” said Caitlin O’Brien, New York state government relations director for the American Heart Association. “More than 75 percent of state’s residents are protected by local Tobacco 21 laws, but the many gaps leave our youth exposed to the potential health risks of tobacco products.”
Tobacco 21, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, and state Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, would raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products across the state to 21. Currently, 22 localities have Tobacco 21 legislation. Monroe County is set to vote Tobacco 21 out of committee on Monday, June 25.
Tobacco 21 made it to the floor of the state Assembly on their final day, June 20, but was laid aside.
In the Senate, Tobacco 21 passed the Health Committee but never made it through to the Rules Committee.
“Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” O’Brien said. “It’s also the leading preventable risk factor for death. We know that 96% of current smokers start before the age of 21. But if someone makes it to 21 without ever smoking, they only have a 2 percent chance of picking up this deadly habit. It’s incomprehensible that the state Legislature didn’t prioritize the health of New Yorkers in this year’s legislative session, nor did they listen to the will of the people. The number of localities that have Tobacco 21 shows that the public wants this measure. We will continue to push for a statewide Tobacco 21 law.”