Smoking Law Takes Effect Oct. 1

Beginning Oct. 1, customers must be at least 21 years old to purchase tobacco products in Chautauqua County.

Signed into law in May, Local Law 2-16 prohibits the sale of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, shisha, bidis, gatka, other tobacco products, nicotine water, herbal cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, liquid nicotine, snuff, rolling papers and smoking paraphernalia to anyone less than 21 years old. The law was passed by the Chautauqua County Legislature to protect public health and ease the burden tobacco products place on society. A similar law was recently passed in Cattaraugus County and is expected to go into effect in November.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems (electronic cigarettes, e-pens, etc.) are included in the legislation.

“Tobacco use is an incredibly tough habit to break,” said Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County director of health and human services. “Cessation tools and medications are widely available, but we know that successful attempts to quit tobacco are limited. Preventing tobacco use and nicotine addiction in our youth is a far more effective strategy to reduce the human and economic toll that tobacco takes on our community. Raising the age to purchase tobacco has been proven a successful effort in other communities, and I can’t wait to see how this policy impacts our youth tobacco rates here in Chautauqua County.”

A 2015 state Partnership for Student Success (PRIDE) survey conducted by the Chautauqua Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council found that among participating Chautauqua County school students, 5 percent of seventh through 12th graders and 13.5 percent of seniors had smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days. Most students reported obtaining tobacco products from 18-20 year-old peers, which is consistent with evidence across the United States. Studies suggest that 90 percent of people who buy cigarettes to give to minors are under age 21, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Individuals are three times less likely to begin smoking if they haven’t smoked by the age of eighteen, and twenty times less likely to pick up the habit if they haven’t begun smoking by the age of 21, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Chautauqua County officials hope the new law will remove most purchasers from the social circles of high school students which will, in turn, reduce the chances that an individual will try cigarettes or have to supply of cigarettes to become addicted.

“Only 5 percent of adult smokers initiate use after they turn 21,” said Mark Stow, Chautauqua County director of environmental health services. “By reducing the number of people minors know who can buy tobacco products for them, we can likely prevent them from picking up the habit.”

The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services Environmental Health Unit will be working directly with local tobacco vendors to ensure the transition goes smoothly when the law takes effect on Oct. 1. Signs and informational packets will be sent to local vendors and informational meetings will be held on:

Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 10-11 a.m. at the Chautauqua County Emergency Services Department, 2 Academy St., Mayville; and

Friday, Sept. 30, from 3-4 p.m. at JCC Carnahan Jackson Center, Classroom 123, 525 Falconer St., Jamestown.

Individuals interested in quitting smoking should contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at nysmokefree.com or 1-866-NY-QUITS, and also talk with their health insurance company to see what tools are available. The Chautauqua County Maternal and Infant Health Program helps pregnant women quit smoking by calling 753-4708.