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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein 

Date: June 27, 2019 


CONTACT: Kara Kane, Public Information Officer


Phone: (716) 858-4941   



Safe behavior, mental health and regular screenings top list of ways for young adults to stay healthy

ERIE COUNTY, NY— As high school seniors transition into adulthood and independence this summer, the Erie County Department of Health has this advice to share on safety topics.


Distracted Driving: Is a text message from a friend worth risking your life? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every day, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured in the U.S. in accidents that involve a distracted driver. This is an important message for teenage drivers, as drivers under the age of 20 years have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Distracted driving accidents are largely preventable by keeping your eyes on the road and off the cell phone screen. If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over to a safe area as traffic allows. Compare the extra few seconds that you think you might be saving with the time, expense and potential injury and pain from a car accident.


When you are a passenger in a car, speak up if your driver is driving while distracted. Asking them to stop while they make a call or send a text, or offer to be the navigator and look up directions. It could save your life.


Mental Health: For many high school graduates, the end of senior year is the start of something brand new: further education, a career, travel, the military or some combination of those paths. It can be a time of uncertainty, and can bring up feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. When these feelings affect you, take steps to keep your balance, and reach out for help to a trusted friend, family member or trained counselor if you need to. The 24-hour Crisis Services Hotline for Buffalo and Erie County is (716) 834-3131.


No smoking: Smoking, chewing, vaping, juuling – no matter what it is called, using tobacco and nicotine can have serious health effects, now and in your future. These introduce addictive substances into your body and can put you at risk for tooth loss, breathing problems and cancers. The batteries in electronic cigarettes have been known to explode, and can cause catastrophic injuries to your face, mouth, teeth and hands. If you do not use tobacco or nicotine products, do not start. And if you do, take steps to quit. Call the NYS Smokers’ Quitline is 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or


Regular Checkups and Screenings: You get one body: take care of it! Start by making sure you are still covered under a parent’s or guardian’s health insurance, or through a college or your employer. On most plans, you can continue until you are 26 years old. To learn about enrolling in the NYS Health Marketplace, visit or call (855) 355-5777.  Stay on schedule with checkups with your doctor and dentist. And when you’re at your regular physical exam, ask about sexually transmitted infections (STI) screenings and other routine screenings recommended for you based on your age and other risk factors. If you are sexually active, getting tested for STIs is an important part of protecting your health. The Erie County Sexual Health Clinic offers confidential testing and treatment at 608 William Street in Buffalo. Call (716) 858-7687 for information.


Underage Drinking: New York State (NYS) law says that individuals under the age of 21 years cannot buy or consume alcohol. When parents or other adults supply alcohol to people who are underage, they put the health and safety of those teens at risk. Injuries, car accidents, violence and risky behaviors are more likely to occur when people are drinking alcohol.  Alcohol use and binge drinking – defined as five or more drinks in two hours for males, or four or more drinks in two hours for females – are associated with poor grades, absenteeism and higher rates of school dropout.


NYS has an anonymous, confidential and free 24-hour tip line for concerned adults, teachers and students to report parties where underage drinking, illicit drug use or other harmful behaviors are taking place: (800) 851-1932. If you are concerned about your use of alcohol, the 24-hour addiction hotline is available for Erie County at (716) 831-7007.


Share this information with a new graduate or parent of a recent graduate.