Lawmaker, cardiologist want to see smoking age raised in NY

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, cigarette use in teens is continuing to go down over the last several years; however, the use of electronic cigarettes is going up.

According to the CDC, nearly a third of high school students in New York use some form of tobacco. If that continues at its current rate,  they’ll be part of a projected five million Americans under the age of 18 to die early from a smoking-related illness.

“As a cardiologist, I’m concerned about early addiction. Patients come to us later in life having wished they’d never become addicted and they often look back upon experiences when they were 12, 14, 16,” Mandeep Sidhu, Cardiologist and President Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association, said.

Because of that nicotine addiction, Sidhu says early access to tobacco sets you up for serious risks as you get older.

“The long-term cardiovascular risks, heart attack, stroke and also the risk of lung cancer needs to be considered.”

“Sometimes you still think you want a cigarette,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said.

The nicotine fix hooked assemblywoman Rosenthal for 20 years at times two packs a day.

“It’s a very hard addiction to break free of, so 20 years of cigarettes, who knows what that’s done to my health. Had I not had it available to me in college, I most probably would have not begun.”

Rosenthal hopes her bill that would raising the age you can buy tobacco from 18 to 21 will be that deterrent for the state’s youth.

She also sponsors a bill that would make e-cigarettes follow the same laws as traditional cigarettes.

Nine localities in New York have raised the age to 21 for tobacco products on their own.

Rosenthal is urging New York as a state to join California and Hawaii, to make this law statewide.

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