August 14, 2006
Back in April of this year the Nassau County Legislature approved a law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products in Nassau County from 18 to 19. Called TOBACCO 19, that law will go into effect throughout Nassau County on August 24. Tobacco 19 will make it more difficult for younger teenagers to “pass” for the legal age, adding a substantial obstacle to their purchasing tobacco products, said Nassau County Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (Woodbury).
Photo caption: Nassau County Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (Woodbury) holds up a sign that will be used to enforce Tobacco 19, a law, which will go into effect throughout Nassau County on August 24, that will raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products in Nassau County from 18 to 19.
According to Legislator Jacobs, who also serves as a member of the Health and Social Service committee, an informal study of local students shows that approximately 30 percent of the students at Nassau County high schools smoke cigarettes everyday, often on school grounds.
“As a vast majority of high school students are not 19, there should be no students ‘legitimately’ smoking on school or near school grounds,” said Legislator Jacobs.
According to the Nassau County Health Department, tobacco vendors will be receiving letters of notification and signage for their stores, within the next few weeks. Vendors will also be required to take the New York State Certified Tobacco Sales Training Course, and can contact the Health Department for more information at 516-571-3232.
"Anything that helps to take tobacco products out of the hands of our youth is a positive move. Tobacco 19 may not be the full solution to teen smoking, but it's a step in the right direction" said Health Commissioner David M. Ackman. The three leading voluntary health organizations-The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association and the American Lung Association support the law.
“By raising the legal tobacco purchasing age to 19, we can further reduce the prevalence of cigarettes in our high schools and keep teens from developing an addiction that threatens their lives and jeopardizes their futures,” Jacobs added. “Often, 18-year-olds, especially those who are 18-year-old high school seniors, will buy cigarettes for their younger friends. A recent California study showed 59 percent of 18-19 years olds were asked by an adolescent to purchase cigarettes on their behalf.”
The American Cancer Society commends Jacobs and Nassau’s Legislators for their efforts to keep cigarettes out of the hands of high school students.
"Teen smoking rates are still much higher than the general population," said David M. Martin, Regional Vice President for the American Lung Association of New York State. "We should not allow a lethal product to be legally available to high school students who may develop a lifetime of addiction and disease from early exposure."
The law’s definition of “tobacco products” includes cigarettes, cigars, bidis, chewing tobacco, powered tobacco and other tobacco products. With the exception of four states, the legal age for purchasing cigarettes is 18. In Alabama, Alaska and Utah the age is 19.