Legislator Solages Warns Residents and Local Leaders that, if “Smoking 21” Legislation is Not Passed, Nassau Communities Along NYC Line Will Become Havens for Teen Cigarette and Tobacco Sales and Use
Legislator Carrie Solages calls upon Presiding Officer Gonsalves to follow the lead of neighboring counties and bring Democratic Legislator Judy Jacobs’ “Smoking 21” bill to the floor so Western Nassau communities don’t become “bad neighbors” that promote teen smoking.
(ELMONT, NY) – Legislator Carrie Solages stood side by side today with angry PTA members, local community leaders and residents when they announced a coalition called the “Be A Good Neighbor Council.” This coalition is calling upon Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, County Executive Ed Mangano, and their Republican colleagues, to do the right thing and join neighboring counties in passing and signing “Smoking 21” legislation here in Nassau.
Now that both New York City and Suffolk County have passed legislation that raises the minimum age to purchase cigarettes from nineteen to twenty-one, teens from bordering counties will naturally cross the border and buy cigarettes at a younger age. “We stand here today because we DO NOT want to become the place where teens flock to get their cigarettes,” Legislator Solages said. “In this day and age when we know so much about the negative health effects of cigarettes it is completely irresponsible for Legislator Gonsalves not to bring this bill to the floor, especially when both New York City to the west and Suffolk County to the east have already passed it.”
The quality of life issues discussed by Legislator Solages and others are real and immediate. “I don’t want to lay awake at night thinking this is what the communities I represent are known for; the place to get cigarettes and other tobacco products when you’re underage. There are so many wonderful reasons to visit Elmont, Inwood, Valley Stream and all of Western Nassau – I just can’t imagine being known mainly as the teen cigarette marketplace,” expressed Solages.
Local community members echoed Legislator Solages’ concerns and were visibly frustrated that by not passing this bill in the Nassau County Legislature, the tremendous progress that has been created in all of Western Nassau will be undermined. “This is a health issue, not a partisan issue,” emphasized Marlene Natale, a retired teacher from H. Frank Carey High School and lifetime educator. “It’s about promoting good health and taking care of Nassau’s next generation in advance. If we can focus on education and prevention with our young people, we can keep future county healthcare costs down and most importantly prevent thousands of premature deaths,” stated Cherry Redhead, a mother and PTA member from Elmont.
Referencing the “Be a Good Neighbor” Coalition, Solages went on to conclude; “Who wants to be a bad neighbor that doesn’t look out for the kids in our own as well as adjacent neighborhoods? It takes a village to ensure we are setting a good example for our young people – let’s tell Ed and Norma to be good neighbors by taking care of Nassau’s teens in the same way Suffolk and New York City have looked after theirs.”