Monday, November 5, 2018

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Putnam County’s Tobacco 21 legislation signed into law

CARMEL – It has taken years but Tobacco 21 is finally law across Putnam County.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell signed the bill into law. It becomes effective on January 1, 2019, making it illegal to sell tobacco, nicotine and vaping products to anyone under the age of 21. Previously, the age was 18.

By Odell penning her signature on the legislation approved by the Putnam Legislature in October by a 6-3 vote, Putnam has joined 24 other municipalities across the state to have enacted the Tobacco 21 Act.

“The health and safety of our young people has prevailed. It may have taken some compromising but this is the right road to travel,” Odell said. “Vaping is a significant problem in our schools that poses serious health consequences.”

Philipstown Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra pushed long and hard for the legislation after it cleared her Health Committee earlier this year. “We are working together to protect our children because Putnam is facing a crisis. This law will prevent our kids from getting tobacco products,” she said.

American Cancer Society Action Network Government Relations Director Julie Hart said that “Tobacco 21 makes sense given 96 percent of smokers begin this deadly addiction before turning 21.”

“Putnam’s vaping numbers are double the national averages,” said Kristin McConnell, director of the Prevention Council of Putnam County. “In a recent survey, the number of local 10th graders admitting using e-cigarettes during the past 30 days totaled 27.3 percent compared to the 13 percent national average. For high school seniors the national average of 16 percent was more than double in Putnam with 33.8 percent of our 12th graders admitting to have ‘vaped’ during the same time frame.”

Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Nesheiwat said the county “has been winning the battle against teen smoking until vaping came along. People think vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes. One of the inhaled chemicals particularly in the flavored variety has been linked to what is commonly called ‘popcorn lung.’”

The county health department, which currently conducts compliance checks to ensure that retailers are not selling tobacco to minors under the age of 18, has begun initiating a campaign to “educate retailers and the public about the new law,” said the commissioner.


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