Recently the Capital Region was gifted a heartfelt and profound message through a dying man’s obituary published in the Times Union: "If you're a smoker – quit now." Instead of reviewing one’s accomplishments and life story, Mr. Geoff Turner chose to unapologetically call out an irrefutable truth – used as intended, cigarettes are the only consumer product that will kill you.

This obituary has gained nationwide attention due to its honesty and relatability. Readers either see their story in his words, or the story of loved ones lost. Everyone should see a hard reality in his narrative that we as citizens, public health professionals, and policy makers cannot ignore: tobacco addiction is still a public health crisis, killing more people than every other preventable cause of death. Further, for the first time in decades, the rate of youth initiation is on the rise.

Elected officials are now considering several legislative proposals brought forth by Governor Cuomo to combat tobacco addiction within our state. These proposals are evidence-based and expand best practices to comprehensively prevent the continued initiation of tobacco products by our youth. These include:

• Raising the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21;

• Ending the sale of tobacco and electronic cigarette products in pharmacies;

• Implements display restrictions;

• Clarifies the Health Department's authority to ban the sale of certain flavored e-cigarette liquids;

• Restricting available discounts provided by tobacco and electronic cigarette manufacturers and retailers;

• Require e-cigarettes be sold only through licensed retailers.

The Living Tobacco Free initiative of the Health Promotion Center at Glens Falls Hospital partners with area health systems, housing developments, municipalities and retailers to educate about the burden of tobacco use. Contact the Health Promotion Center at Glens Falls Hospital at hpc@glensfallshosp.org to learn more.

Shannon Morrison-Gaczol, Glens Falls

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