Smoking is a tough habit to break. It isn't an easy thing to do and, according to numerous studies, it is also one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death in the United States. Recently, Ulster County has taken steps to help protect our youth from the marketing efforts of the tobacco industry.

According to the Office of the Ulster County Executive, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein recently visited the YMCA in Kingston to sign a new local law that protects youth from intensive tobacco marketing efforts targeted at them through retail outlets located around their schools.

According to the County Executive's press release, Ellen Reinhard, Director of TFAC-Tobacco Free Action Communities, states that '90% of all smokers begin smoking before they reach 18 and tobacco companies know that marketing in stores is an effective way to reach the kids they need as their new smoker.'

The new local law, titled “A Local Law Establishing a Tobacco Retail License and Reducing Youth Exposure to Tobacco”, establishes a County licensing requirement for the retail sale of tobacco products and prohibits issuance of new retail licenses to businesses located within 1000 feet of K-12 schools in Ulster County.

This new law also carries enhanced penalties for multiple violations of the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA); a New York State statute that regulates the sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of eighteen.