American Heart Praises Westchester County Passage Of Tobacco 21 Law

The American Heart Association (AHA) said that by prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, the Westchester County Legislature and County Executive haves acted to save lives and improve the health of county residents. The proposal was passed with a vote of 16-1 Monday evening and signed into law Wednesday by County Executive George Latimer.  “Passage of this bill will help fight chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and all forms of cancer. Westchester is now the 22nd county in New York who has taken this step to save lives,” said Caitlin O’Brien, AHA Government Relations Director. Nearly than 300 localities have passed tobacco 21 laws.

“Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and tonight’s vote shows that the Westchester County Legislature is committed to the health of its residents,” said O’Brien, “The American Heart Association thanks Westchester County leaders for passing this important measure, and we look forward to improved health for Westchester County residents.”

In the Hudson Valley, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan Counties, Ulster, and the Town of New Castle in Westchester County have passed similar legislation. Nassau County passed the tobacco 21 law Monday night, as well. AHA volunteer You’re the Cure advocates met with New York State legislators on their May 8th Albany Lobby Day to seek support of statewide legislation.

“While county by county measures help, that the patchwork approach doesn’t work and all residents of NY need to be protected. The AHA is seeking a statewide change in the purchasing age of tobacco products,” O’Brien said.

According to the NYS Department of Health, 10,600 youth under 18 become new daily smokers each year, and 73,000 New York State high school students currently smoke.

“A March 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies said that if a youth reaches the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to two percent,” said Icilma V. Fergus, MD, FACC, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Westchester AHA Board President, “These laws will have a huge impact on the health of our residents for generations to come.”

The AHA states that this strategy is already working. In 2005, Needham, MA voted to raise and enforce the minimum tobacco sales age of 21. In 2006, before full enforcement, the town had a youth smoking rate of 13% compared with 15% in the surrounding communities. By 2010, the youth smoking rate in Needham was down to 6.7% while the surrounding communities’ rate only decreased to 12.4%. The percent decline in youth smoking in Needham was nearly triple that of its neighbors.

For more information about the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots action network, visit To find free resources to quit smoking, visit or the NYS Smoker’s Quitline at or 1-866-NY-QUITS.


updated June 6, 2018 3:54pm.

Heart Advocacy Update from Albany

Update from Caitlin O’Brien, NYS American Heart Association Government Relations Director

With New York State finalizing the State budget this past weekend, the Heart Association scored some great public health wins. With the Governor threatening to cut millions of dollars in funding to crucial public health programs, AHA staff and advocates worked hard to make sure this didn’t come to fruition. After months of email, calls, and meetings with elected officials, our hard work paid off and the cuts were rejected in the final budget. This means programs like the Hypertension Program, aimed at reducing rates of heart disease and stroke, will continue to get $692,000 in critical funding. Additionally, the Obesity/Diabetes Prevention Program received $5.9 million, which will help people in communities across the State live healthier lives. Lastly, our elected officials held steady funding aimed at tobacco cessation in the Tobacco Control Program.

As we look toward the rest of the legislative session, we have plenty of policy priorities to support. Here is what we will be focusing on:

  • Raising the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21 through the passage of Tobacco 21.
  • Prohibiting flavored tobacco products which the tobacco industry targets to youth
  • Instituting healthy vending machines throughout state owned properties
  • Offering healthier, non-sugary beverages in children’s meals at restaurants


  • Join us on May 8 for Lobby Day at the New York State Capitol to push for the passage of Tobacco 21. Email me at to learn more or sign up.
  • Join You’re the Cure online at 
  • Take action when you get an email from You’re the Cure! With one click, you can let your legislator know that you support the American Heart Association’s initiatives.
By |April 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

American Heart Association Supports Tobacco-21 Bill in Orange County NY

Studies show the higher age will reduce the number of first-time, young smokers

This week, the Orange County Health & Mental Health Committee unanimously passed the “T21” bill proposed by Orange County Legislator James DiSalvo, which would raise the age to purchase cigarettes, tobacco products, liquid nicotine, or electronic cigarettes to 21. The Rules Committee also passed the bill which means the bill will go to the full Legislature for a vote on December 1st. The American Heart Association strongly supports this proposal.18-2

 The law would prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, liquid nicotine, or electronic cigarettes to minors and young adults under the age of 21.

“It’s imperative that we raise the age to purchase tobacco, tobacco and nicotine products to 21,” said Kristin Salvi, New York State government relations director for the American Heart Association.

“Studies have shown that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will significantly reduce the number of teens and young adults who start smoking,” Salvi said. “It will also reduce smoking-caused deaths.”

“Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death in the United States. More than half a million people in New York have a disease caused by smoking, resulting in about $8.17 billion in health care expenditures annually. An estimated 24,500 New Yorkers die of smoking-related deaths each year,” said Jonathan Schiller, AHA Heart Walk Chair, and Chief Operating Office at Orange Regional Medical Center.

“New York continuously leads the nation in pursuit of quality tobacco control, like with our high tobacco tax and clean indoor air policies,” Salvi said. “One hundred localities nationwide have raised the age for tobacco sales to 21. Orange County’s smoking rate is still 15%, and the Orange County Legislature has an opportunity to further ensure the good health of its residents by making this deadly habit unavailable to our youth.”

The American Heart Association invites members of the community support voice support of this legislation to create a healthier community in Orange County by calling their legislators before December 1st. Join to sign up for grassroots action alerts.

By |November 17th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Legislation Introduced to Ban Smoking in Hotel Rooms

American Lung Association, POW’R Against Tobacco, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association Announce Support for the Bill

American Heart Association volunteer Jeff Reilly was pleased to join with Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski yesterday to announce new legislation that would add hotel and motel rooms to the list of places where smoking is restricted under the Clean Indoor Air Act (A.8371). Currently, the Clean Indoor Air Act exempts hotels and motel guest rooms from the list of prohibited places.

Jeff Reilly, AHA volunteer and COO Bon Secours Charity Health System, 3rd from right

Jeff Reilly, AHA volunteer and COO Bon Secours Charity Health System, 3rd from right

Reilly, AHA volunteer Heart Walk Chair and COO of Bon Secours Charity Health System expressed support for the bill saying, “All of the hospitals in our system have smoke-free campuses. Bon Secours and the American Heart Association support this proposal and urge all of our state leaders to support it as well.”

“Smoke cannot be confined to just one room. Smoke travels through walls and ventilation systems into other guests’ rooms causing an unpleasant environment. This issue is a matter of public health and I believe it will benefit the accommodation industry by removing the burden of making smoking rooms available that are difficult to clean and which negatively impact other guests,” said Assemblyman Zebrowski.

Representatives from POW’R Against Tobacco, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and Bon Secours Charity Health System stood with Zebrowski in support of the bill, which takes a major step in protecting consumers from secondhand smoke.

“We know that smoking is the leading preventable cause of heart disease,” stated Robin Vitale, Senior Director of Government Relations for the American Heart Association in New York. “As a result, the American Heart Association applauds this proposed ban on smoking in hotel and motel rooms. In this case, it guarantees that all overnight guests can rely on an environment that doesn’t promote disease. ”

Secondhand tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and is responsible for a myriad of respiratory illnesses and cancer.

“This initiative will not only benefit guests, but also the hotel employees who are exposed to smoke. This will ensure they have a smoke-free workplace and are afforded the protections that employees in other industries have,” said Zebrowski, calling on New York to set an example for the hotel industry.

New York would join five other states that have enacted similar bans on smoking in hotel rooms. In addition, several hotel chains have voluntarily imposed smoking bans in their hotels.

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By |September 10th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments