Seen in: The Saratogain 

Twelve counties across NYS have changed the age of purchase for tobacco from 18 to 21. Saratoga County could be the next to adopt a law that will save future lives from nicotine addiction.

As The Director for School Based Education for The Prevention Council of Saratoga County, I would like to share some information relevant to this topic. My colleagues and I travel to twelve school districts within Saratoga County delivering evidence based drug and alcohol prevention curriculum to students in grades K-12. Kid’s attitudes towards alcohol and drugs differ dramatically depending on their developmental stage. As students enter middle and high school, they develop more favorable attitudes towards drugs based on advertising, media, peers and a lack of seeing or acknowledging real consequences of using these products.

Research shows that delaying the age of use, lowers the risk of addiction for many drugs including, but not limited to, tobacco. Most of this research focuses on brain development and the fact that the adolescent brain is still not fully developed until the mid-twenties, and therefore more susceptible to addiction. Raising the purchase age until 21 will limit access to tobacco products for younger adolescents and therefore result in lower risk of addiction and tobacco related diseases.

For kids alive today, 4.2 million years of life would be saved by virtue of this logical, simple policy change. Other important impacts include a 12 percent decline in premature births and 16 percent drop in SIDS cases. Most adults favor making 21 the minimum age of sale for tobacco products. If Saratoga County chooses to raise the age of tobacco purchase to 21 years old, they will be creating a healthier community for all of us.

Jennifer Oliver-Goodwin,
Director of School Based Education
The Prevention Council of Saratoga County