Saratoga County is considering joining a small but growing number of counties to prohibit stores from selling tobacco products to anyone younger than 21.
The idea, which has strong support among health care providers, will be the subject of a public hearing of the county Board of Supervisors slated for 4:40 p.m. Oct. 11. The meeting will be in the county boardroom in Ballston Spa.
The board's Public Health Committee approved the proposed law Monday, but not without lengthy discussion, said committee Chairman Vincent DeLucia, R-Malta.
DeLucia said he supports the under-21 concept being pushed by the county Public Health Department and Glens Falls Hospital's Living Tobacco-Free Initiative, but not without reservations.
"It's quite a heavy-duty issue. You're talking over-regulation — telling people what they can and cannot do," DeLucia said.
While the measure won committee approval, DeLucia said he's not sure if the full Board of Supervisors will adopt it, given the concerns.
"I can support it because I know this is something a lot of the citizens prefer," DeLucia said. "Cigarette smoking is not good."
A provision of the proposed law that will be dropped would prohibit the sale of cigarettes entirely at any store within 1,000 feet of a school, DeLucia said.
"In some small villages and towns with the school right in the center, it may be hard for a store to be 1,000 feet away," he said.
The law would apply to cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia.
Anti-smoking groups say those younger than 21 are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction and are more likely to continue smoking throughout life than those who take up smoking as adults.
Locally, Albany and Schenectady counties already have legislation that dictates a 21-or-older requirement for smoking-related purchases. Without a local law, cigarettes can be purchased under state law by anyone 18 or older. Six other counties around the state and New York City have also adopted 21-or-older tobacco laws.
The Living Tobacco-Free Initiative will host a public lunch meeting about the proposal at noon Friday at Longfellow's Restaurant in Saratoga Springs. Those interested in attending are asked to call the initiative office at 518-926-5914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org