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Mahoney vetoes smoking age increase

Joanie Mahoney

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has vetoed a proposed county law that would raise the age necessary for a person to purchase tobacco products. The age limit is currently 18, and the proposed law would have raised that age to 19.

Mahoney explained her reasoning in the following statement:

Pursuant to Article 3, Section 20, of the Municipal Home Rule Law, a public hearing was held before the undersigned on September 11, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. in the Offices of the Onondaga County Executive, Syracuse, New York, to consider the local law adopted September 2, 2008, entitled:

"A LOCAL LAW PROHIBITING THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS OR HERBAL CIGARETTES, ROLLING PAPERS OR PIPES TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 19 EXCEPT PERSONS SERVING IN THE UNITED STATES MILITARY, INCLUDING NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVES".

After considering the comments made and after careful review of the proposed local law, it is my opinion that this Local Law is not in the best interests of the residents of Onondaga County. As a mother and as County Executive, I am deeply concerned about teen smoking. If I believed that this law would accomplish its stated goal of preventing teen smoking, I would sign it immediately. Instead, this proposed law only addresses a small fraction of the sources of tobacco currently available. I am completely committed to curbing teen smoking, and will work with the sponsors of this current law to find a solution that can make a real impact on this critical problem facing our community.

For the foregoing reasons, I hereby veto said Local Law.

Respectfully submitted, Joanne M. MahoneyCounty Executive

Onondaga County Legislators had voted last week to raise the age from 18 to 19. The bill would not have applied to members of the military.

Mahoney held a public hearing about the proposal on Thursday, so she could listen to opinions before making her decision. Supporters of the bill say 18-year-olds pass cigarettes through local high schools, hooking their underage classmates on addictive nicotine.

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