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Worthington City Council passes Tobacco 21 law


Worthington now joins 10 other central Ohio communities in banning the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 21.

Its City Council members called it a life-changing program.

One city at a time, it’s getting a little bit harder for some to buy tobacco in Ohio.

It’s because city leaders across the state are raising the age limit to purchase it and Worthington is the latest.

“So really this is about keeping kids away from this addictive behavior,” President of Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation Dr. Rob Crane said.

Tobacco 21 bans the sale of tobacco and tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

Worthington City Council voted Monday night to pass the ordinance.

“Worthington is taking this important step not only to raise the age but to do it right, to partner with the Columbus Public Health. This is a health issue,” Dr. Crane said.

The Tobacco 21 movement is slowly spreading across Ohio.

So far, 10 other cities have enacted the legislation, including Columbus, Bexley, Grandview, Dublin, Powell and more.

“It is a bad addiction to start. It is the opposite of freedom, it is slavery,” Dr. Crane said.

The Executive Director for the National Association of Tobacco Outlets disagrees.

In a statement, Thomas Briant said “the Worthington ordinance only prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. This means that 18, 19 and 20 year olds can still possess and use tobacco products in the City of Worthington. These young adults will simply drive to the next city, buy their preferred tobacco products, and drive back to Worthington to consume the products. Proponents may claim that there could be a public health benefit, but the reality is that there will be little or no health benefit because the possession and use of tobacco products is still allowed.”

But those who have been advocating for Tobacco 21 from the start, like Dr. Crane, say Worthington isn’t the last stop.

They say they’ll keep pushing, one city at a time to keep tobacco away from kids.

“We just keep having to get more and more communities involved eventually, I think the statehouse and the white house until we see this is an important step,” Dr. Crane said.

Worthington city leaders say they want to talk with neighbors and businesses before Tobacco 21 enforcement starts.

Falcon Heights and Shoreview Vote to Put Kids Above Tobacco Industry Profits

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 60 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, applauded the cities of Falcon Heights and Shoreview for voting to put their kids above tobacco industry profits. On Monday, the Shoreview City Council voted unanimously to raise the tobacco sales age to 21, becoming Minnesota’s sixth Tobacco 21 city. On Wednesday, the Falcon Heights City Council passed a two-part tobacco prevention policy aimed at protecting youth. The Falcon Heights policy restricts the sale of menthol-, fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores and raises the tobacco sales age to 21. Falcon Heights becomes the state’s seventh Tobacco 21 city and fourth to restrict the sales of all flavored tobacco products.

“Shoreview and Falcon Heights join cities across the state that are taking bold steps to protect our youth from tobacco addiction,” Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay MinnesotaSM, and co-chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition, said. “We’ve seen how e-cigarette use is exploding among Minnesota kids. Tobacco 21 and restricting flavored tobacco products are common-sense policies that will put additional barriers between young people and nicotine addiction.”

House strongly endorses raising tobacco sales age to 21

The Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill would also set the minimum age for purchasing vaping products at 21.

The vote was 147-4.

“This bill seeks to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction among youth by restricting access to tobacco and vapor products for anyone under 21,” said Representative Kate Hogan, the House chair of the Legislature’s public health committee.

Both the state Senate and Governor Charlie Baker support such efforts, so it is likely some version of the bill will become law. Health advocates strongly back raising the age, while some industry groups are cool to the idea.

Tobacco use at any age isn’t generally prohibited. State law limits sale of tobacco products to people 18 or older. But more than 170 Massachusetts towns and cities, including Boston, have raised the legal sales age, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Put another way, more than 70 percent of the state’s population lives in communities that have raised the tobacco age to 21.

The House measure would change the age statewide, following several states such as Hawaii, California, and Maine.

If the bill passes the House and Senate and the governor signs it into law, it would also harmonize the minimum legal sales age for three drugs in Massachusetts: alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.

The House bill would also add vaping to the state’s smoke-free workplace law, so anywhere a person is prohibited from smoking they would be prohibited from vaping, too. And the legislation would bar pharmacies from selling tobacco and vaping products.

The Senate passed a similar bill in 2016 by a vote of 32-2 , but it stalled in the House.

Senator Jason M. Lewis, the Legislature’s most outspoken proponent of raising the tobacco age, cheered this year’s House effort.

“I look forward to joining with my colleagues to bring this bill to the floor of the Senate — where it passed with bipartisan support last session — and onward to the governor’s desk,” the Winchester Democrat said.

Tobacco 21 is chance to save teens from addiction

This year, we are celebrating 10 years of a Smoke Free Illinois. This law, while controversial when it was being passed, has become a new, healthier norm. Most young adults barely remember when smoking was allowed everywhere and cannot comprehend people smoking in restaurants and public spaces.

Now, it is time for another new, healthy norm: Tobacco 21. Why 21? Increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products to 21 years of age will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and over time save thousands of lives.

For 17 years, the teen tobacco use rate in our state was on the decline thanks to education and strong laws that kept this addictive and deadly product out of the hands of our youth. Now, because of heavy advertising, easy access, concealable electronic cigarettes and fruit and candy flavors, tobacco use is once again increasing among Illinois teens. In fact, in 2015 (the latest data available) 32.8 percent of Illinois high school youth reported using tobacco products.

Tobacco 21 laws focus on protecting youth from the death and disease associated with tobacco use. Nearly 95 percent of addicted adult smokers started smoking before they turned 21. If we can keep young people from getting hooked on tobacco products before their 21st birthday, they will likely never become addicted.

Tobacco 21 is our opportunity to stop the tobacco industry from capturing today’s young people as tomorrow’s customers. The American Lung Association encourages elected officials at all levels to support Tobacco 21 policies.

Kathy Drea, Vice President, Advocacy

American Lung Association in Illinois

Editorial: Raise the age to buy tobacco and vaping products

Many American teens wouldn’t dream of lighting up a cigarette. They know that tobacco smoking is an easily acquired and often deadly habit. Too many, however, shrug off companion health warnings and fire up e-cigarettes instead.

Now Illinois lawmakers are poised to make that harder by raising to 21 from 18 the legal age to buy tobacco or e-cigarette products. The Illinois Senate has approved a measure on a 35-20 vote; the proposal now moves to the House.

We urge lawmakers to vote yes, and Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the bill into law.

This is not a Nanny State overreach into the personal habits of Illinoisans. It’s a smart way to help some unknowable percentage of young people from decisions that they and their families would regret for decades to come.

We’re sure that lawmakers hear many of the same arguments against this proposal that we have: 18-year-olds serve in the military and vote, why can’t they buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes? We say no for the same reason that we supported a statewide ban on smoking in public places a decade ago. Because it’s a public health imperative that yields huge benefits. Anyone miss those smoky restaurants? Anyone?