Re Sept. 12 article, “Saratoga County considers raising smoking age to 21”: Saratoga County is on the right track as it considers raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our nation. Today, 28.8 percent of high school students in New York state use tobacco products, with most adult smokers (95 percent) having tried their first cigarette before the age of 21.
We can’t overcome these statistics and the growing popularity of alternative tobacco products like e-cigarettes without forward-thinking local leaders willing to step up and protect our youth.
We enthusiastically applaud Saratoga County (as well as other municipalities like New York City) for leading this cause and we urge the state to follow suit. A statewide law raising the age of sale of tobacco would not only increase the efficacy of these local laws, but also save the state millions in taxpayer dollars spent on tobacco-related health care.
We are grateful to the Public Health Committee and Chairman Vincent DeLuca for moving this legislation forward and showing true leadership when it comes to the health and future of New York’s youth.
The writer is director of Public Policy in NY American Lung Association.