Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country, despite us knowing it can give you cancer, diabetes, pulmonary and heart diseases. Each year, cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans, and more than 41,000 of these deaths are from exposure to second hand smoke. Worse, we see e-cigarettes and vaping products, which contain highly addictive Nicotine, being targeted to our youth. According to the Truth Initiative, by 2016, nearly 4 out of 5 middle and high school students saw at least one e-cigarette advertisement. E-cigarette companies offer our teens scholarships, market to them on social media, sponsor music festivals they attend, and promote kid friendly flavors like cotton candy and gummi bear. In an effort, to keep our children safe, I support a package of anti-tobacco bills that will help save lives.
The Senate Majority passed legislation raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco products, which includes e-cigarettes. The bill requires warning and notice signs to reflect the new age limit, and the bill prohibits the distribution of “free of charge” tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. New York is now the eighth state in the country to raise the tobacco age and protect our residents.
Pharmacies should be tobacco-free, which is why I sponsor legislation to ban cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping products from pharmacy shelves. It is time pharmacies stop selling these harmful and highly addictive products when smoking related illness is costing the U.S. more than $300 billion each year. Corporations who house pharmacies should not be making money off getting people sick.
It is also time vaping liquid be taxed to discourage people from using it and better protect the health of all New Yorkers. The legislation I sponsor proposes a tax of twenty-five cents per fluid milliliter of vaping liquid. The revenue generated would then go to smoking and vaping cessation programs.
Up until 2016, e-cigarettes went completely unregulated, and even today we do not exactly what is being inhaled. Vaping though is more popular than ever among our young people. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 37 percent of high school seniors have tried vaping, up from just under 28 percent in 2017. This is why we must address this problem with common-sense legislation.