The American Heart Association offered praise to Putnam County Legislators for passage of Tobacco 21 legislation Tuesday night. The legislation calls for increasing the sales age of tobacco products, including cigarettes and vaping products, from 18 to 21 years of age. Putnam became the sixth Hudson Valley county to pass Tobacco 21 legislation in the past year. In the Hudson Valley, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester Counties now have similar laws. To date, roughly 75% of New Yorkers are covered by a Tobacco 21 law.

“The American Heart Association is thrilled with the outcome of this vote because of what it will do for the health of Putnam youth. A big thanks to the leadership of Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra who sponsored this bill,” said Caitlin O’Brien, American Heart Association Government Relations Director. “We hope state legislators take notice of the widespread support rolling through New York and act on a statewide bill this year. All residents of New York need to be protected.”

“This legislation will save lives and improve the health of Putnam County residents. Tobacco use causes chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other forms of cancer. We look forward to County Executive O’Dell’s signing Tobacco 21 into law for a healthier Putnam County,” she said.

In New York State alone, more than half a million people currently have a disease caused by smoking, resulting in about $10.39 billion in health care expenditures annually.

Tobacco 21 has already proved effective in the more than 300 localities nationwide that have enacted this legislation.  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 www.yourethecure.org. To find free resources to quit smoking, visit www.heart.org/quitsmoking or the NYS Smoker’s Quitline at https://www.nysmokefree.com/ or 1-866-NY-QUITS.