The Sullivan County Legislature will be holding a public hearing this Thursday March 16, 2017 at 1:40 PM in the Sullivan County Legislature Hearing Room on raising the legal age to purchase cigarettes to 21.
If you cannot attend this important public hearing, please contact your legislator and urge them to approve this important legislation.
There shouldn’t even be debate on raising the legal age to purchase cigarettes to 21 – but several legislators at a recent Sullivan County Legislature Executive Meeting had some reservations.
Legislator Mark McCarthy expressed concern that there are too many regulations and laws already in place and felt the proposed law might be far reaching.
What McCarthy and several other legislators are concerned about is that the proposed new law includes language that bans sales within 1,000 feet of school properties and limits the opening of new outlets.
Legislator Terri Ward told me that she is absolutely for raising the age to 21, but is concerned that the proposed law can go too far and harm businesses.
The proposed law might include language that prevents retailers with a pharmaceutical component from selling tobacco. This would include Walmart, ShopRite, and Rite Aide.
Simply put – there is no need to include language that bans cigarette sales 1000 feet from school properties or businesses with a pharmaceutical component – This addition to the law would hurt businesses and is unnecessary.
If the age limit to purchase cigarettes is 21 and merchants allow sales to those under the age limit they would be breaking the law and could jeopardize their license.
If someone wants to purchase cigarettes for someone under the age, they could potentially go to a store located 1001 feet away from a school and do so.
Nadia Rajsz, Vice Chair of the Sullivan County Legislature, expressed to me her strong support of raising the age limit to purchase cigarettes to 21. “The statistics are there that 96 percent of current adult smokers began before the age of 21, and we must do everything feasible to bring this rate down.”
Rajsz noted that “the tobacco industry targets potential smokers who are at a young age. This new law will help prevent young people from ever starting
to smoke and assist in reducing deaths, disease and health care costs caused by tobacco use.”
Studies conclude the ages of 18 to 21 are also a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular daily use. While less than half of adult smokers (46 percent) become daily smokers before age 18, four out of five do so before they turn 21.
We all know that Nicotine is highly addictive, but studies show that adolescents and young adults are more susceptible to its effects because their brains are still developing.
Without a Doubt – Delaying the age when people first experiment with or begin using tobacco can reduce the risk that they will become addicted smokers.
Sullivan County Public Health Services Director Nancy McGraw strongly urges raising the age to 21.
During a recent presentation before the legislature, McGraw said Nearly a quarter of Sullivan County’s adult population (18 years or older) are current smokers and that there are at least eight tobacco outlets in Sullivan County which are within 1,000 feet of a school.
McGraw noted that a Sullivan County Tobacco-Free Action Coalition survey saw 68 percent of Sullivan County residents favoring prohibiting cigarettes from being sold near schools, and 58 percent raising the age to 21 to purchase cigarettes.
According to McGraw there has been as much as a 50 percent drop in smoking in our younger population in Counties that have raised the age limit to 21.
Research shows that our youth often turns to older friends as their source for cigarettes. Raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will most certainly reduce the likelihood that a student will be able to legally purchase cigarettes for other students who are underage.
We all know that raising the age to 21 is not a magic solution and do all cure to stop the terrible effects of cigarette smoking – But it’s a proactive start.
Please support raising the age to 21.
Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.