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Essex County looks to raise the age to buy tobacco

August 10, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County could see a change in its tobacco sales policy before 2019.

The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Monday, Aug. 6 in regard to raising the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The board will choose whether to adopt the resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m.

The hearing falls in line with the goal of Tobacco 21, a national campaign focused on raising the age for purchase.

According to the Food and Drug Administration and the state Department of Health, tobacco products include cigarettes, loose cigarettes, cigars, bidis, gutka, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, nicotine water, herbal cigarettes, shisha, smoking paraphernalia and e-cigarettes and similar devices. Some of those don't actually contain tobacco, though.

Traditional products like cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos contain ingredients such as tobacco, nicotine, arsenic and tar. When they're lit, nearly 7,000 more chemicals are released, and about 70 are known to cause cancer.

E-cigarettes and other liquid vaporizers don't contain tobacco and little to no nicotine. The other two main ingredients are propylene glycol and glycerine.

While some states do have a minimum age for tobacco consumption, New York does not.

States such as Massachusetts, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Maine and New Jersey have raised the age of purchase state wide to 21.

If the board approves the amendment, Essex County would be the first county in the North Country to raise the age, and it would join a number of other areas in New York that have done the same. Those include two cities - New York and Albany - and 13 counties - Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Cortland, Nassau, Onondaga, Orange, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tompkins, Ulster and Westchester.

In a phone interview, North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi said he'd be surprised if the resolution wasn't passed on Sept. 4. He also said the adoption could influence other North Country counties.

"Everybody has a different opinion, but I think anything you can do to curtail smoking problems and smoking in youth is good," he said.

As for the future of tobacco sale in New York, Politi said, "I think in the next three years, the state will pass legislation on tobacco," he said. "We're just getting it started. Some say it's a feel-good law, well yeah, I feel good about it."



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