MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Teens in Chautauqua County will no longer be allowed to purchase tobacco products soon, according to a new law signed into effect by Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan.
Passed by the Chautauqua County Legislature, the law changes the legal purchasing age of tobacco products from 18- to 21-years-old. Horrigan said he signed the new law in part because it is a bi-partisan supermajority.
The legislature and Horrigan worked with the County Health Commissioner, Board of Health and more to weigh the costs and benefits of the change. Horrigan said he and his colleagues carefully considered the impacts the law would have on small businesses, which need all the help they can get. However, small business leaders chimed in on the decision as well.
“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,” Horrigan said in a statement. “On the other hand, the health risks and [addictive] nature of tobacco are [indisputable] and so often young adults begin using these products during high school years.”
Horrigan even took into consideration the thought that young men choosing the path of military service after high school wouldn’t be able to purchase tobacco products. He said as a retired Air Force senior officer, he believes the products only serve to compromise military readiness and health, tilting his decision further.
Although come Oct. 1, teens won’t be able to purchase tobacco, it won’t change the legality of smoking if the products are obtained in a legal fashion — such as heading to a neighboring county. For that, too, Horrigan had an answer.
“I predict that other New York State counties will soon follow the lead of Chautauqua County,” Horrigan said.