BELMONT — A county committee came into Wednesday’s meeting proposing to send a local law to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.

Part of the reason was to “further the goals of New York state’s tobacco use prevention and control program. The proposed law is also a response to the fact that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the state.

The Human Services Committee, at least for Wednesday, decided to do more research before voting on the proposal. The motion for a law was tabled.

If the proposed law comes before the full Board of Legislators, a public hearing will have to be held before it is voted on.

At Wednesday’s meeting, committee member Tim O’Grady said, “I would be more comfortable passing a resolution, like we do in so many other instances, sending it to the state …”

He said the county should ask the state to raise the tobacco purchasing legal age to 21 in its legislation.

“I know other countties have passed this legislation and I would think if we took it to the Association of Counties (NYSAC), the counties that have already done it, it would stand a pretty good chance of being heard and getting the age limit raised statewide,” he said. “That’s what I would rather see us do …”

O’Grady said if counties pass local laws to raise the age limit from 18 to 21, what else might they try to do?


“All of a sudden you say, ‘That worked for us. Now, DWIs, we’d better raise the drinking age to 25,” he said. “I just don’t know where it ends. I would rather see us go forward with a resolution requesting the state raise the age to 21.”

Committee member Judy Hopkins said, “The feeling is that, until the counties take action, the state will not take action.”

Jon Chaffee, who attending the meeting representing Partners for Prevention in Allegany County and Reality Check, said this is similar to the passage of the Clean Indoor Air Act, the state didn’t pass it until a lot of the counties passed it first.

“With Tobacco 21, you’re looking at the same thing Until the majority of the counties pass a law, it’s not going to go as a state law,” Chaffee said. “We were told that in February by our state local elected officials.”

Legislator Dwight “Mike” Healy said, “That’s their feeling that they don’t know. They don’t have a crystal ball.”