Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) on Tuesday joined Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Sen. Sue Serino (SD-41), Program Director of Tobacco-Free Action of Columbia & Greene Counties Karen dePeyster, Greene County Sheriff Pete Kusminsky, Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione, educators and local officials for a press conference in Catskill to discuss the dangers and warning signs of underage drug use, using a pipe disguised as a highlighter to make a point to warn parents about how kids can hide illicit activities from them. There, speakers discussed what parents should know to protect their children and educate them about the dangers of using drugs, including tobacco and marijuana, as students return to school and in the wake of the drug’s legalization.

“In the battle against underage drug use, education and communication are the strongest tools we have to help our kids make the best decisions possible to protect their health and their future,” said Tague. “It’s critical that we maintain an open and honest dialogue with our kids about the consequences of their decisions and allow them to learn from our own mistakes and experiences. If we don’t take the time to teach them about drugs, then their peers and the world will.”

“As a parent, I am acutely aware of the dangers that these things can pose to our kids. I always say, awareness is the key to prevention, and we want to ensure that parents, teachers and members of the school community have the information they need to help keep our kids safe and healthy by keeping these highlighter devices out of their hands,” said Serino. “We know that conversations don't always come easily, but we are urging our neighbors to take the time as the school year gets started to talk with your kids about how dangerous these devices can be and to reassure them that they can talk with you if ever they are feeling pressured by peers or anyone else."

“Addiction is a disease, and those who would seek to take advantage of those suffering from this illness must be brought to justice,” said Molinaro. “We have the tools and capability to fight the influx of drugs into our community and provide for better access to treatment, but if we don’t utilize them to the fullest extent, we are failing. We need to empower law enforcement to find, arrest, and prosecute those who would seek to profit off the lives of young people. And our partners come to us asking for help with educating the public to a growing threat, we must be willing to assist.”

“Nicotine can be harmful to the developing brain and can increase feelings of anxiety and stress in teens,” said dePeyster. “Many vaping devices are designed to avoid detection, and cannabis or other drugs can be used in some of them. It’s a huge problem for schools and for parents.”

“It’s important to bring awareness to parents and teachers of what’s out there that may be targeting our youth,” said Matt Luvera, Catskill Elementary Teacher and Greene County Legislator. “We should all be aware and continue to help kids and teenagers make better choices than to turn to tobacco or drugs