Hauppauge - (WALK) Long Islanders who have something to say about keeping an addictive substance away from young people are urged to speak up in Hauppauge Tuesday.
A proposal to raise the legal age for tobacco purchases in Suffolk is the subject of a public hearing before the Suffolk Legislature on February 11.
The measure, proposed by Legislator, Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport) would raise the age for lawful tobacco sales from 19 to 21. The Suffolk County Board of Health unanimously endorsed Spencer's plan when introduced in November.
Spencer is a doctor and chairman of the legislature's Health Committee. His bill would cover sales of cigarettes, cigars electronic cigarettes (E-Cigarettes), and other tobacco products.
Critics of raising the legal age for tobacco purchases site potential sales tax losses of more than $400,000 according to legislative budget analysts. Their figure is based on the impact of losing sales to approximately 5,000 smokers between the age of 19 and 21, who would be barred from purchasing one pack of cigarettes per day at a cost of $10 per pack. Critics also question if the proposed law is enforceable.
Supporters of Spencer's proposal point to potential savings of $2.9 billion in health and medical costs if tobacco is unavailable to those young men and women. Other supporters say spending on other products would keep Suffolk sales tax revenues even.
The Suffolk Legislature public hearing is Tuesday, February 11, at the William Rogers Legislative Building in Hauppauge. Hearings begin at 2:30 p.m.
Photo: David Shay