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Several tobacco initiatives in 2013 will help protect public health

Posted 4 January 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

There were changes in tobacco prevention throughout New York State and the U.S. in 2013. Below are some significant milestones:

On Jan. 1, 2013, a NYS law took effect which prohibited the sale of electronic cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18 years of age.

On Oct. 10, 2013, a state law was enacted prohibiting smoking on playgrounds, between sunrise and sunset, when one or more persons under the age of 12 are present at the playground. Playgrounds constructed upon one, two and three family residential real property are exempt from the requirement.

On Nov. 1, 2013, another NYS law came into effect prohibiting smoking on hospital campus grounds and residential health care facilities and within fifteen feet of the property lines.

On Nov. 19, 2013, New York City Mayor Bloomberg signed a bill into law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Why are these laws to protect and preserve the public health important? Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death across the United States. It is imperative that local citizens, health experts and government leaders take this issue seriously. In New York State alone, the death toll from tobacco-related illnesses reaches more than 25,000 every year and more than 430,000 nationally. Moreover, another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking.

Despite the risks and costs there are still 46.6 million adults in the U.S. who smoke cigarettes and use tobacco products, and yet only a fraction of the CDC recommended budget for tobacco prevention is earmarked by the NYS Legislature.

What can you do? Contact your state legislator to let him know how important this work is to you and the community you live in. You can also partner with Smoke Free NOW, a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse to effect change.

Kevin Keenan
Smoke Free NOW coordinator
Batavia