Kingston, NY – Ulster County Executive Mike Hein visited the YMCA, in Kingston, today to sign a new local law that protects youth from intensive tobacco marketing efforts targeted at them through retail outlets located around their schools. County Executive Hein was joined by County Legislator Jeanette Provenzano, who was the principal sponsor of the legislation, Ulster County Commissioner of Health and Mental Health, Dr. Carol Smith and representatives of Tobacco Free Action Communities, Ulster Prevention Council and the American Cancer Society.
The new local law, titled “A Local Law Establishing a Tobacco Retail License and Reducing Youth Exposure to Tobacco”, establishes a County licensing requirement for the retail sale of tobacco products and prohibits issuance of new retail licenses to businesses located within 1000 feet of K-12 schools in Ulster County. Existing retail businesses in possession of a valid New York State tobacco sales registration certificate, on or before January 1, 2016, would be “grandfathered” in and could apply for a new County license. The new law also carries enhanced penalties for multiple violations of the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA); a New York State statute that regulates the sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of eighteen.
“Simply put, this is about protecting our children. It was created to protect our children from the onslaught of tobacco industry marketing that is designed to recruit them to become new smokers. Tobacco companies spend over 2 ½ million dollars a day to market their products and most of it is directed to point of purchase advertising and promotions at the retail level. We choose a 1000 foot buffer around schools because it is a best practice recognized nationally and one that is recommended by the New York State Department of Health. I think everyone can agree that schools, and their immediate surroundings, are places to learn and grow in the healthiest way possible. I’d like to thank Legislator Provenzano for her support and perseverance in getting this law passed. It’s a win-win for our children and for our entire community,” said County Executive Hein.
Legislator Jeanette Provenzano said, “This important piece of Legislation makes it more difficult for our children to buy cigarettes and take that first puff on a cigarette. It also demonstrates that good things can happen when the County Executive and Legislative branch work together for the good of our community.”
“Smoking and other tobacco use is by far the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for some 478.000 premature fatalities annually. Not only does tobacco use cause tremendous suffering, it also results in huge, additional private and public health care costs. Studies clearly demonstrate that communities that have a higher density of tobacco retailers near schools also have a higher rate of youth smoking. This law will help keep young people from trying, and being attracted to, tobacco products. I would like to thank County Executive Hein for his visionary leadership in bringing this critical public health measure to fruition.” said Dr. Smith.
“TFAC-Tobacco Free Action Communities thanks Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Legislature for taking significant, life-saving steps to protect children from tobacco marketing, especially near schools,” said Ellen Reinhard, Director of TFAC. “This is important because 90% of all smokers begin smoking before they reach 18 and tobacco companies know that marketing in stores is an effective way to reach the kids they need as their new smoker. We can’t stop the tobacco industry from marketing its products; however, we can reduce our children’s exposure to their marketing and help prevent our kids from becoming a new replacement smoker.”Pictured below with County Executive Mike Hein (from left): Ulster County Legislator Jeanette Provenzano; Ulster County Commissioner of Health and Mental Health Dr. Carol Smith; Heidi Kirschner, President and CEO of YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County; Ellen Reinhard, Director of TFAC; Dave Scarpino, President and CEO Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley; John-Anthony Bruno of the American Cancer Society.