Neuhaus signs Tobacco 21 legislation

Orange is the first county in the Hudson Valley to enact such a law, which takes effect June 1


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  • Photo provided by Justin Rodriguez Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus signed legislation on Friday, Jan. 27, to enact a law that would increase the minimum age for purchase of cigarettes and other tobacco products in Orange County from 18 to 21. He is joined by (from left to right) Meghan DuBois O'Connor, the POW'R Against Tobacco Program Manager for Orange County; JoAnn Parker, Hudson Valley Corporate Development Director, the American Heart Association; Orange County Legislator Barry Cheney; Anna Trocino, Senior Market Manager, Community Engagement, the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Action Network; American Heart Association Executive Director Kristin Judd; Orange County Deputy Health Commissioner Chris Ericson; and Mike DiSalvo, a member of the American Cancer Society's Executive Leadership Team.



— Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus signed legislation on Friday, Jan. 27, to enact a law that would increase the minimum age for purchase of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the county from 18 to 21.

The Orange County Legislature unanimously approved the proposal in December. Legislator James DiSalvo, R-Highland Falls, introduced the law a month earlier. DiSalvo’s father, Mike, a member of the American Heart Association’s Executive Leadership Team, represented him at the signing. Neuhaus was joined at the event by Legislator Barry Cheney, Deputy Commissioner of Health Chris Ericson and representatives from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Action Network, and the American Lung Association.

“I am pleased to take this proactive step toward keeping cigarettes out of the hands of young people,” Neuhaus said. “I want all Orange County residents to be healthy. As a parent of three, with another child on the way, I want to do all we can to reduce access to cigarettes.”

Fines up to $1,500The Tobacco 21 law takes effect on June 1. Retailers who sell tobacco to someone under 21 could be fined $300 to $1,000 for a first offense and between $500 and $1,500 for further violations.

There are currently nine other counties in New York State where the minimum age for buying tobacco products is 21: Albany, Schenectady, Chautauqua, Suffolk and the five counties that make up New York City.

In Onondaga and Nassau counties, the minimum age is 19. In all other counties the minimum age remains 18.

“We want all county residents to live longer, healthier and more productive lives,” James DiSalvo said. “This measure will help to reduce Medicare and Medicaid tobacco related costs in the future. I am thankful this legislation received bi-partisan support and appreciate everyone who assisted in getting this accomplished.”

3,200 first-time young smokers each dayAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness.

Approximately nine out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18. Each day in the U.S., according to the CDC, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.

Proof 'we can work together'“This legislation is proof of the good work we can do when we work together," Chairman of the Legislature Steve Brescia said. "I see this as a model of how we can advance serious, substantive legislation going forward.”

Added Commissioner of Health Dr. Eli Avila: “This is a proactive move in public health and another important step to keep our younger population from becoming addicted to tobacco products.”

For more information, contact Justin Rodriguez, Assistant to the County Executive for Communications and Media Relations at 845-291-3255 or jrodriguez@orangecountygov.com.

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