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County executive signs law to hike tobacco buying age

May 19, 2016
Westfield Republican

Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan signed the local law to raise the legal age for purchase of tobacco products in Chautauqua County to 21 on Tuesday. This legislation was recently passed by a bi-partisan supermajority of the Chautauqua County Legislature in April.

Immediately following the signing, Horrigan offered the following comments:

"I applaud and thank so many members of our community and small businesses that offered their perspective on this legislation. Over 60 comments were received through public commentary, emails, letters, and phone calls. I especially want to acknowledge over 20 young high school students who took the time to engage me on this legislation.

"Clearly there were several important points of view that weighed on my decision making process in order to reach a decision. On the one hand our small businesses need all the help they can garner to counter rising New York State minimum wage pressures, high taxes, and skyrocketing workers' compensation costs. On the other hand, the health risks and addiction nature of tobacco are undisputable and so often young adults begin using these products during high school years. Still others said that if you are old enough to fight for your country, you are old enough to buy tobacco products. As a retired 27 year senior officer of the Air Force, I join with many other military leaders in the perspective that tobacco products are a threat to our military readiness and too often compromise the health of our professional military who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. As far as traveling to other counties to buy tobacco products, while true, I predict that other New York State counties will soon follow the lead of Chautauqua County.

"In reaching my decision, I used a balancing test. Does the opinion of a supermajority of our legislators, the testimony and emails of our high school young adults, the testimony of our health professionals, and the facts surrounding the addictive nature of tobacco in 18 to 20 year olds outweigh the loss of some business revenue by county government raising the age from 18 to 21 for the sale of tobacco products in Chautauqua County? I came to a conclusion that it does."

The local law takes effect Oct. 1.



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