Putnam County legislature opted to postpone a Tobacco 21 vote — an initiative that would raise the legal tobacco purchase age to 21. This is another win for the vape community, as e-cigs are now classified as tobacco products on the Federal and State level.
According to the 2010 census, Putnam County — located just outside New York — had a population just shy of 100,000 (99,710).
The Tobacco 21 vote was introduced on September 4, had been on the docket for over a month, and had fallen under heavy scrutinization by board members. Barbara Scuccimarra (Legislator), William Gouldman (Legislator), and Carl Albano all voted against postponing the vote. Scuccimarra did not understand why members of the board neglected to come forth before the final vote, stating the she, “…would have brought in more people to talk about how important this legislation is”. Albano stated that, “This is something that needs to happen relatively soon,” according to The Examiner News.
If voted through, T-21 would’ve fined business owners in violation up to $1,000, with possible license suspension causing further damage. $1,000 is quite a hefty fine, especially for those working a part time job. It was unclear how the legislation planned to deal with individual offenders (the private sale of tobacco products to someone underage, or sharing between those of age and those underage…).
In a 6-3 vote, T-21 was tabled until further analysis and adjustments can be made. “Tobacco 21 advocates are sending a message that our 18, 19, and 20-year-olds are incapable of making sound decisions. We want to strip them of their liberty and their right to their own bodies and their own life. While we recognize the perils of tobacco products, we are telling them that we don’t trust them to decide whether they should or shouldn’t smoke and need regulation.”
The statement brings up a good question, one that many have asked with previous Tobacco 21 legislation: should we really allow those 18 and older the opportunity to fight for the freedoms of our country, but not allow them to make decisions about tobacco? This is a controversial topic, and sending mixed signals to those under the age of 21 does not seem like the right way to go about things. You can’t have it both ways when it comes to T-21.
Unfortunately, suporters of the legislation are still looking to pass T-21 in Putnam County. Castellano stated, “I thought long and hard about it, and I understand the opposite view point on it, but the time is now to move the age to 21.”
So now, more than ever, vapers must fight for their right to use vapor products. Especially those under the age of 21, in Putnam county and many other places across the country. Contrary to popular belief, vaporizer use as a means of harm reduction has successfully helped to lower cigarette addiction across the nation. Cigarette addiction levels have always been high among youth members of society, so removing e-cigs as a healthier alternative would essentially turn more young adults back to traditional tobacco product use. We need a change for the better, not a continuation of our current tobacco fueled health epidemic!