Healthy Ulster enters 8th year with new initiatives


Hein and Smith pitch new healthy initiatives

GARDINER – Ulster County Executive Michael Hein joined health officials, along with local private sector partners Monday afternoon, announcing the 8th annual Healthy Ulster County Week. The event took place at Mohonk Preserve in Gardiner.
A proposed county-wide ban on cigarette sales to individuals under age 21 is among the several new initiatives Hein’s administration is introducing for 2018. He said that research shows fewer people become smokers when regulations delay smoking during formative years.
“We’ve all heard it a million times over, smoking is one of those things we can control, but unfortunately, causes too much death and devastation in families, as a result of cancer, heart disease, lung disease, Hein said. “We are this close to making a fundamental difference in Ulster County, and raise the age of smoking, from 18 to 21. I’m a big believer in science and statistics. When you look at both of those things, what becomes known to you is very clear. If we can keep a young person from starting smoking, it is very likely that they will never smoke at all, and it drastically reduces the rate of all of those terrible diseases. When I was weighing the big Libertarian discussion, should we do this or not, what it really came down to is, do I want less families to experience the devastation of cancer and heart disease, or not? And so it made the decision for me very easy, and that’s why I support it, and I urge everyone to support it as well.”
The measure must pass a vote of the county legislature later this year, before Hein can sign it into law. He added that the measure is part of an overall goal to make Ulster County the healthiest in New York State. Currently in 6th place for 2018, Ulster falls just behind Dutchess, in 5th place; Nassau, in 4th place; Rockland, in 3rd place; Suffolk in 2nd, and Westchester in 1st.
Ulster County will be offering all local residents free Narcan training, something previously made available only to first responders. The measure is part of the ongoing fight against opioid addiction, in effort to saves lives from accidental narcotic overdose.
New River-to-Ridge trail infrastructure tops off the new announcements, with trail connections linking the Walkway Over the Hudson to rail trails in Highland and New Paltz, which then provide access to Mohonk Preserve and related trail networks to the north and south. This in turn links to a larger statewide rail trail network connecting New York City to Canada.
Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith said the people of Ulster County are blessed with natural beauty and outdoor recreational resources. She asked, “Where are we, if we’re not preserving health – of the individual, the community, and the environment?”
Smith praised Hein and the numerous partners, including Mohonk Preserve, which has issued over 33,000 complimentary passes over eight years, in cooperation with Healthy Ulster County week programs.
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