Saturday, February 10, 2018

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Dutchess is latest county to consider a Tobacco 21 law

Dr. Barrick: "... over a thousand deaths per year in Dutchess County"

POUGHKEEPSIE – Doctors and educators are behind a pending local law to raise the age of purchasing tobacco in Dutchess County to 21.  Several Hudson Valley counties have already made that move.

County Board of Health member Dr. William Barrick is the recent past president of the Dutchess County Medical Society. He told the County Legislature’s Government Services and Administration Committee that while the opioid crisis is getting the attention now, statistics on smoking-related deaths are staggering.

“There are over a thousand deaths per year in Dutchess County from complications related to smoking,” Barrick said.  “Smoking is the number one risk factor for the top four out of five causes of death in Dutchess County, as evidenced by the Board of Health statistics going back to the latest full year of 2016.”

Arlington School District Superintendent Dr. Brendan Lyons cited another compelling statistic on the significance of age.

“Ninety-five percent of adult smokers began smoking prior to turning 21,” Lyons said.  “A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine indicated that raising the age to 21 would significantly reduce the number of teens and young adults who start smoking and also change the cultural norms around the acceptability of smoking.”

Lyons said that’s of particular concern because there are 537 students at Arlington High School who are 18 or will be by the time they graduate. 

All three speakers also oppose any amendment that would exempt military personnel from the law. 

“We care as much about our soldiers as we do the rest of our youth,” Barrick said.

 


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