KINGSTON – Joe Camel can go take a hike, but away from a school. A new law was signed by Ulster County Executive Michael Hein Thursday banning establishments from selling tobacco products within 1,000 feet of K-12 schools.
Hein signed the law surrounded by kids at the Kingston YMCA
The law is intended to curtail underage children from being exposed to aggressive marketing tactics use by the tobacco industry, often targeted to youth and displayed at retail stores.
Pre-existing sellers are grandfathered, but must apply for a free license to continue selling near schools. County legislator Jeanette Provenzano, the bill’s sponsor, urged all children to never smoke cigarettes.
“Ulster County cares about its citizens, its adults, it teens, our children,” said county Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith, who noted that 90 percent of smokers begin their addiction before the age of 18.
“Smoking is not okay; it kills almost half a million people in the US every year,” Smith noted.
“Everybody understands what this is about, taking a step to protect our children, preventing somebody from getting cancer,” Hein said. “The reality is, long term smoking is very likely a death sentence.”
“Future generations are not going to feel the pain that cancer has brought us,” said John Anthony Bruno, senior community relations manager at the American Cancer Society. He said public policy initiatives are an important part in the fight against cancer.