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Erie County proposing raising the age for buying tobacco, e-cigs

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Erie County lawmakers are pushing legislation to raise the age for buying tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to 21.

Vaping is booming across the country, especially among young people. That is where legislators are putting together a bill to fight vaping and the general smoking issue, although smoking among young people is collapsing.

Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams said there will be a public process.

"We'll have committee meetings on it and community meetings," she said. "We're trying to increase that age up to age 21 so that those individuals that are younger than 21, the access is not so easy. All we're trying to do is slow down the easy acquisition of e-cigarettes, cigarettes."

Miller-Williams said the legislation will include rules so that if a person over 21 buys the products and turns them over to someone under 21, that can draw a criminal charge.

Legislator John Bruso said recently he doesn't understand how vaping became so popular with young people.

"There's more," he said. "We should be looking into the flavorings, the flavorings and the actual marketing of the products and how does a product that's designed to help adults quit smoking turn into a little flash drive-looking item that a kid can have, an adolescent can have in school."

Andrew Hyland, chair of the Health Behavior Department at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, said some are trying to quit tobacco with the e-cigs.
"We do see some evidence that e-cigarettes users report what I would call symptoms that they are looking to quit, that they feel that they have lost some control," Hyland said. "It's tricky to tease this out because many, many e-cigarette users are cigarette smokers as well and they may be trying to get off of the cigarettes by using the e-cigarettes. We see a lot of that."

Hyland said Roswell Park researchers are trying to figure out what is in vaping and it's taking time. Many don't have nicotine in the liquids consumed in the small devices.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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