Gov. Cuomo signs heroin legislation

By Haley Burton
By Jillian Marshall

June 23, 2014 Updated Jun 23, 2014 at 6:35 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a stop at Binghamton University to sign legislation aimed at combating the heroin epidemic in New York.

"Heroin very rarely is a problem that solves itself," Cuomo said.

Cuomo signed the series of bills Monday in front of local leaders, state police and community members at the Innovative Technologies Complex.

The democrat said it was important to sign the bill here in the Southern Tier because heroin is taking the lives of teenagers and young adults throughout Upstate New York. He said it's happening in lower populated areas like the Southern Tier.

"The way the heroin problem is presenting itself now, it's not really a big city problem, it's a problem everywhere, obviously, but it’s not primarily a big city problem. This is more suburban, this is in rural areas across the state, it's younger people," Cuomo added.

Gov. Cuomo said the comprehensive package is the first step to fighting off heroin, a drug he called dangerous and easily accessible.

"It is more potent than ever before, it's less expensive than ever before," Cuomo said.

Included in the legislation is adding an additional 100 state troopers to the New York State Police drug task force.

The bill also increases criminal penalties up to high felonies for dealers across the state.

Cuomo said the most important piece of the legislation is public education. The state is planning on having heroin awareness campaigns on SUNY and private college campuses across New York.

"If you know something, do something. Everyone has a responsibility in a community, right? Every brother, every sister, every neighbor, so this problem is not going to just go away because government is doing it," Cuomo said.

The governor added that heroin is not an issue that solves itself and it takes a whole community to combat the problem.

The legislation also outlines improved treatment options, so it is harder for insurance companies to turn away addicts looking for help.