Some call for veto on Albany Co. law that raises age to buy tobacco related products

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Some are calling for a veto of a local law passed in Albany County that raises the age to buy tobacco related products to 21.

Local Law C passed the Albany County Legislature on May 9. While Albany County Executive Dan McCoy needs to sign the law for it to go into effect, some are calling for a veto.

“If this becomes law, where will 18, 19, 20-year-old smokers go to get cigarettes?” Jim Calvin, Pres. of New York Association of Convenience Stores, positioned. “Just hop the county border.”

Calvin doesn’t believe Local Law C will stop teenagers from getting ahold of tobacco products.

“There are so many other ways that kids manage to get cigarettes other than buying them from a convenience store,” he said.

Calvin said research shows the majority of teen smokers get their cigarettes from social shares and not stores.

“From older relatives and acquaintances, from Lenny down the block, from Uncle Charlie, from mommy’s pocketbook, so if you elevate the purchase age here at a store like this, they’re still going to have access,” he said.

Albany County Legislator Paul Miller disagrees. He said the goal of the bill is not to prevent people from buying cigarettes but to prevent teens from starting to smoke.

“If somebody’s never smoked, it’s a lot less likely they’re going to go over to Rensselaer County just to get their first cigarette,” he said.

Miller said the county’s health board conducted a report on teenagers buying cigarettes, and raising the purchasing age was their highest recommendation to prevent teen smoking.

“Part of the study was that when people start smoking after 21, it’s a lot easier for them to quit if they decide to quit,” he said.

While convenience stores would lose business under the new bill, Miller said it would have a positive impact on the healthcare industry.

“Smoking causes health problems and raises the cost of healthcare currently, so the more people that we can get off – that stop smoking – it will reduce the cost of healthcare for the county,” he said.

McCoy will hold a public hearing on the tobacco law on Thursday. He has until the second week of June to decide whether he’ll sign it into law.

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