Prohibition of the sale of water-laced with nicotine to minors under the age of 18

Governor George E. Pataki has signed legislation into law that prohibits the sale of water-laced with nicotine to minors under the age of 18.

The new law will protect teenagers from the harmful effects of nicotine and put in place the same tough restrictions on nicotine-laced water as are currently in place for the sale of cigarettes.

"By prohibiting the sale of this harmful product to minors, we have taken another critical step in our efforts to protect New York's children from the dangers of nicotine," Governor Pataki said. "This important new law will build on the success of our ongoing efforts to stop kids from smoking - such as our multi-million dollar anti-smoking campaign, which specifically targets children and teens."

"We have an obligation to educate young people about the dangers associated with smoking and ensure that products like nicotine-laced water, which can potentially be as addictive as cigarettes, don't fall into the hands of our children and teens," the Governor added.

Nicotine water is a relatively new product that has the potential to be as harmful as cigarettes and has a nicotine content of four milligrams per 16.9 fluid ounce bottle -- roughly equivalent to the amount found in two cigarettes.

Before enactment of this law, this product could be purchased in stores across the State and had no age requirement governing its sale. The new law puts in place the same tough restrictions on nicotine water as are currently in place for the sale of cigarettes.

Senator Serphin R. Maltese said, "This product, while designed to help people quit smoking, is controversial because it tastes and looks like regular water and has the potential to be as addictive as cigarettes. This is not something that children should be able to obtain. I commend Governor Pataki for signing this legislation into law to ensure that nicotine water will not be available to the children of New York State."

Assemblyman Carl Heastie said, "The proliferation of this product clearly demonstrates our need to remain vigilant in addressing health and safety threats, particularly to our young people. Nicotine-laced water, while free of toxins released when smoking, is still harmful because of the potential for nicotine addiction. The enactment of this new law takes critical steps toward ensuring the well-being of New York's children."

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., said, "New York's new law banning the sale of nicotine-laced water to minors builds on Governor Pataki's commitment to ensuring that our youth have every opportunity to grow up healthy and strong. The Governor and his administration have devoted tremendous resources to protecting New York's young people from potentially harmful products, such as nicotine-laced water and cigarettes, and this law provides us with yet another safeguard."

Just yesterday, the Governor announced $19.7 million in funding for the support of 19 tobacco cessation centers and 74 community-based organizations to prevent and reduce tobacco use across the State.

Under the Governor's leadership, New York has launched a five-year, $87 million commitment to stop cigarette smoking and the use of tobacco products by New Yorkers. In addition to this new funding initiative, the Governor has over the past eight years dedicated historic funding levels totaling approximately $220 million to support anti-smoking and tobacco control initiatives in New York State.

The following initiatives are supported under this comprehensive anti-smoking and tobacco control campaign:

  • New York State Smokers' Quit Line -1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) - provides cessation information and referral services to smokers who want to quit smoking;
  • Reality Check Youth Action programs provide outreach to school-aged youth from all economic and cultural backgrounds and get them involved in activities that are aimed at de-glamorizing smoking in their communities;
  • Tobacco Free Student Support Services provide resources and support to schools that develop, implement and enforce effective tobacco-free school policies;
  • Enforcement of youth access restrictions through the State's Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act. The initiative helps focus community attention on the issue of youth access to tobacco, and educates and cites retailers who violate this law;
  • Medicaid coverage for over-the-counter and prescription cessation therapies;
  • Additional anti-smoking laws and regulations such as the recently amended New York State Clean Indoor Air Act which prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and new regulations adopted this year that require all cigarettes sold in New York be manufactured with a special fire resistant paper that will help reduce the likelihood of an accidental fire from a burning cigarette;
  • Higher excise taxes on the purchase of cigarettes, raising the price of cigarettes and discouraging youths from purchasing them; and
  • A statewide tobacco education media campaign with the goals of educating New Yorkers about the health risks of smoking and the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Since the enhancement and expansion of New York's anti-smoking campaign under the Governor's direction in 1996, State Health Department statistics show that the number of everyday smokers declined from 19.2 percent in 1996 to 16.9 percent in 2002. In addition, the percentage of everyday smokers in New York State who made attempts to quit smoking within a 12-month period increased from 49.6 percent in 2001 to 57.9 percent in 2002.

The latest data show a noticeable decline in the prevalence of smoking among New York's young people. The use of cigarettes by middle school students statewide declined from 10.1 percent in 2000 to 6.7 percent in 2002. The use of cigarettes among high school students also declined, dropping from 27.4 percent in 2000 to 21.3 percent in 2002.

The new law banning the sale of nicotine-laced water to minors goes into effect in January 2005.

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