State should set tobacco age at 21

New York State should take a page from the Town of North Hempstead’s book and pass legislation barring kids younger than 21 from purchasing tobacco [“Tobacco law raises age to 21,” News, March 1].

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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.

In fact, 28.8 percent of New York high school students use tobacco products, and close to 95 percent of adult smokers tried their first cigarette before age 21. With these statistics and the growing popularity of alternative tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, it’s vital that local leaders step up and take action to protect our youth.

While we enthusiastically applaud North Hempstead (as well as other municipalities like Suffolk County and New York City) for leading this cause, a statewide law would be more effective in protecting public health. It would also help save the state future health care dollars when New York youth don’t start this deadly addiction.

Mike Seilback, Commack

Editor’s note: The writer is vice president of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association of the Northeast, located in Hauppauge.