It has been more than 70 days since the New York State Legislature passed Tobacco 21, a common-sense measure that will make a big impact on tobacco use rates among teens. New York likes to be a leader when it comes to public health, but right now we’re falling behind. Fifteen states have signed Tobacco 21 into law. Unfortunately, we aren’t one of them. As a resident of New York, a parent and grandparent, I’m eager to see this law signed by Governor Cuomo without further delay.
Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of heart disease and stroke, the number one and number five causes of mortality nationwide. Because nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try smoking by age 18, and 95 percent by age 21, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 is a great way to delay and ultimately prevent addiction.
With youth use rates of nicotine packed e-cigarettes higher than ever, and evidence suggesting that teenagers using e-cigarettes are 6 to 8 times more likely to move on to using traditional tobacco products, signing Tobacco 21 into law cannot wait.
This is New York’s chance to prevent future generations from picking up a tobacco product. I look forward to seeing Tobacco 21 signed by Governor Cuomo into law once and for all.
—Russell Schiff, MD, FAAP, FACC, FASE, FAHA
Director Ambulatory Pediatric Cardiology at Northwell Health
President of Long Island American Heart Association Board of Directors
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