On Monday, Suffolk County legislatures made the ‘Smoking 21’ bill official. That means that beginning Jan. 1, 2015, anyone in Suffolk buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, liquid nicotine, rolling papers, and pipes must be 21, by law.
The bill, sponsored by Legis. William R. Spencer, D-Huntington, was signed into law by County Executive Steve Bellone Monday.
Suffolk lawmakers said that the county was the first in the nation to pass “such a stringent, comprehensive resolution.”
But will the new law meaning those under 21 will be heading to Nassau County to buy tobacco products? Not for long, if Nassau Leg. Judy Jacobs, D-Woodbury, makes strides.
At a press conference Monday announcing the new law in Suffolk, Jacobs said “There is no question in my mind that it will prevent diseases and prevent egregious amounts of money being spent by taxpayers funding health care in the future by restricting the sale of tobacco products to children “Unfortunately, we all know that by the time a child reaches the age that he would be able to make well-formed decisions about tobacco, he/she is already addicted,” she added.
“This law will be a life saver and protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents we are elected to represent,” she continued. “I am very hopeful that Nassau County will do the same once all the statistics are provided to the Legislators. It makes absolutely no sense for Nassau to stand alone, between Suffolk and the City. I would like to believe that we all care, equally, about the health of our constituents."
“This issue is complicated but everyone agrees that smoking is always hazardous to your health,” Spencer said at a press conference.
“There is no question that in the 50 years since the Surgeon General issued his first warning about tobacco we have proven, using sound and repetitive science, that the chemicals in these products are highly addictive and deadly,” he added. “Keeping tobacco products, and the unregulated e-cigarette merchandise, out of the hands of our teenagers will undoubtedly save lives.”
“Rarely do you get the opportunity to sign legislation that will literally save lives,” Bellone said. “The public health and safety impacts of this bill are undeniable. I am excited that Suffolk County is pioneering these restrictions for the health of our young people.The law is expected to be “instrumental in helping to reduce smoking rates among teens, as it has been shown in the past that legal purchasers between the ages of 18 and 20,” officials said.