Norman Dascher, president of Samaritan Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital, wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Record in support of new legislation to raise the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21.
From the op-ed:
Sadly, the use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for many forms of cancer, heart disease and stroke; and can also damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones. This is troubling, yet tobacco use is one of the risk factors that is modifiable. This is also an area where leadership by our local lawmakers and smart evidence-based public policies can make a difference.
Increasing the age of sale for tobacco products is a common-sense measure. The facts are clear: Smokers start as children. Approximately 95 percent of adults who smoke started smoking before the age of 21. This period is when the brain is developing, including the parts responsible for decision making, impulse control, sensation seeking, and susceptibility to peer pressure. Adolescents and young adults are therefore a critical population to target with evidenced-based, tobacco control strategies.
In NYS, ten counties and the city of New York have passed Tobacco 21. Numerous major public health organizations including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have endorsed Tobacco 21 policies.
It’s time for Rensselaer County legislators to heed the advice of the public health community and pass Tobacco 21.
Click here to read Dascher’s entire letter.
For more information on the Tobacco 21 initiative, visit: https://tobacco21.org/