Earlier today, the American Heart Association participated in what may turn out to be our last formal bill signing ceremony with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As talk turns to the idea of defining his legacy, it was certainly appropriate that his action today took one more giant leap toward reducing tobacco addiction in our city. From the beginning of his tenure as our Mayor, he has steadfastly fought to prioritize our health by taking on Big Tobacco. Today, he furthered this cause by signing into law two bills which directly target our stagnant youth smoking rate. Beginning immediately, penalties are increased for any retailers selling tobacco illegally. In March, all cigarette packs will have to be sold for at least $10.50 and all coupon discounts will be banned. And finally in May, tobacco and e-cigarettes will not be able to be sold to anyone under the age of 21. We would not have been able to do this without all of you...our You're the Cure advocates!
I am particularly grateful for American Heart Association Advocacy Committee member, Dr. Tara Narula, Associate Director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital/North Shore LIJ. Tara supported the process of passing these bills from the very beginning. She was there when the Mayor introduced his proposal at a press event in Queens. She testified at a marathon hearing in front of the Council Committee on Health. And today, she stood next to the Mayor and witnessed history being made as these bills were signed into law. (Tara, I hope you enjoy your commemorative pen!) Thanks to Tara - and all of our AHA advocates - our city's hearts will soon be even healthier!