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County raises tobacco buying age to 21

Commissioner Ken Cornell spoke highly of the new ordinance, calling the use of e-cigarettes among kids an “epidemic.”

Alachua County is now the first county in the state to raise the tobacco-buying age to 21.

County commissioners voted Tuesday night to hike the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18.

The new ordinance will be enforced in all areas of the county, and applies to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vaping products and liquid nicotine devices.

 

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Jerry Brewington, senior planner for the county’s growth management office, said the ordinance is aimed at stopping the sale of tobacco products. In other words, those under 21 won’t be penalized for smoking.

The ordinance also requires tobacco vendors to buy a sales license. The license will cost each business $230 annually, and stores with licenses cannot be within 1,000 feet of a public school.

The county will use a corporation with experience enforcing tobacco compliance inspections within Florida, named Information Systems and Networks Corporations, to handle such tasks as maintaining data on violations and conducting inspections.

A new, part-time county staff position will process the licenses.

Many members of the nonprofit Tobacco Free Alachua County attended the meeting, saying the region should be the leader in phasing out youth tobacco use.

The ordinance passed 5-0 and will take effect in nine months.

Commissioner Ken Cornell spoke highly of the new ordinance, calling the use of e-cigarettes among kids an “epidemic.”

“We’re really happy,” Megan Hendricks, an Alachua County PTA member, said after the vote. “This will have a positive impact on our children.”

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Brian Donohue column: Tobacco 21: Addressing the right problem the wrong way

Nearly 95 percent of adults who smoke started before age 21, so we applaud our state legislators for wanting to reduce the use of tobacco, including e-cigarettes, for those younger than 21. However, the proposed bill as it is drafted will not provide the public policy results legislators are looking for and will not have support from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

It is important to closely evaluate each proposed Tobacco 21 bill as the tobacco industry has a history of using age of sale laws to weaken restrictions on sales to youth, penalize youth, create carve-outs for certain products, and to interfere with other effective tobacco control policies.

ACS CAN has been working to advance effective Tobacco 21 legislation across the nation for several years. What we have learned from these debates is that the legislative focus needs to be on the sale — not the purchase — of tobacco and e-cigarette products. We have also seen that penalizing and fining youth who purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes has proven not to be an effective way to reduce consumption. Therefore, as this bill is drafted, it will not have support from ACS CAN.

The Tobacco 21 legislation needs to address three critical areas of concern in order to have the greatest impact: focus on the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes rather than the purchase, require licensing for all retailers that sell tobacco and e-cigarette products, and fund prevention and cessation programs to help reduce youth tobacco use.

This bill retains penalties for youth who purchase, use, and possess tobacco and e-cigarette products. We have learned from working Tobacco 21 bills across the states that laws that focus on the purchaser rather than the seller fail to reduce youth consumption. Virginia’s current law unfairly penalizes youth, many of whom became addicted at an early age due to tobacco industry marketing campaigns. This takes the spotlight off Big Tobacco and retailers and shifts it onto the victims — our youth.

Not licensing retailers makes enforcement and holding retailers accountable next to impossible. For Tobacco 21 laws to be effective, there must be strict enforcement to ensure a high rate of compliance. We recommend the proposed bill be amended to require retailers to be licensed, designate an enforcement agency, identify a dedicated funding source for enforcement, require annual unannounced compliance checks, increase fines and penalties including license suspension and revocation for retailers found out of compliance, provide for citizen complaints of violations, require appropriate signage at retail stores, and, lastly, provide retailer education.

Our final concern is that many young people who smoke are already addicted. Some research suggests that penalizing youth could deter them from seeking support for cessation. Promoting and increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation resources for teens interested in quitting would be a more beneficial alternative to fines and punishment.

Without the amendments outlined above, this bill will prove to be ineffective, feel-good legislation that allows the tobacco and e-cigarette industries to support this measure while presenting themselves as good corporate citizens who are doing the right thing.

We urge lawmakers to oppose this bill as drafted and work to seize this opportunity to pass meaningful legislation that has proven to effectively reduce youth consumption of all tobacco and e-cigarette products. ACS CAN stands ready to work with legislators on amendments needed to make this bill an effective vehicle for protecting our young people from a lifelong addiction to tobacco and e-cigarette products.

Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Raise Tobacco and E-Cigarette Sales Age From 18 to 21 to be Included in 2019 Executive Budget

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that a proposal to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21 will be included in the 2019 executive budget as part of comprehensive legislation to address the teen vaping epidemic, curb youth tobacco use and remove sources of tobacco and nicotine products from high schools.

We have made great strides to stamp out teen smoking, but new products threaten to undo this progress to the detriment of millions of Americans. In New York, we refuse to stand idly by while unscrupulous businesses target our young people and put their very futures at risk,” Governor Cuomo said.

The legislation contains multiple tobacco control provisions and would provide the Department of Health the authority to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette liquids that target youth.

E-cigarettes use among youth at epidemic levels

“The latest Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, which tracks indicators of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke among middle and high school students, shows that one in four high school students currently use electronic vaping.  Florida is significantly above the national average.

People do not become addicted to tobacco or to cigarettes. They become addicted to nicotine, which is in tobacco and in electronic cigarettes. Nicotine is an insecticide, and is highly addictive.

Today there are significantly more children inhaling nicotine than 20 years ago. Nicotine adversely affects the brains of children, which are not fully developed. Nicotine addiction leads to a costly, slow and painful death. It kills 480,000 Americans each year.

Any assumption that vaping is safer than smoking has been dispelled by many studies including one at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Vaping is not safe, and there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

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The Surgeon General recently declared “e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic.”

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Legislators in Florida (state and local) have done nothing to stop the vaping epidemic, but they can do many things. For example, the state legislature can define electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which includes electronic cigarettes, as tobacco.

Currently, vape shops in Florida are unregulated and do not require a license to sell ENDS. Requiring vape shops to have licenses to operate and taxing ENDS as cigarettes are taxed will be more popular than raising property taxes.

Since 2016 six states have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21, and so have 370 cities and counties across America. None are in Florida.

The Florida Legislature and local governments must raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. Nearly all tobacco product use, and addiction, begins during youth and young adulthood. Tobacco use among teenagers has been cut in half in communities where the legal age is now 21.

Raising the access age to 21 would be beneficial to elected officials as it is an extremely popular measure. In a statewide poll of likely voters, 69 percent favored raising the legal age to 21 if it were a ballot initiative. This overwhelming popular support is consistent with numerous other polls conducted across America.

Opponents may argue the state will lose tobacco tax revenue. This argument lacks vision because Florida pays out more than twice the money it collects in tobacco tax to pay for Medicaid claims due to tobacco-related illnesses and does not account for the immeasurable human suffering caused by drug addiction.

Healthy laws need to be enacted to protect young people from this deadly epidemic. If the state legislature will not act, then cities and counties must act to end the ENDS epidemic.”

Is Juul the Startup World’s Greatest Long Con?

“It was 25 years ago that executives at Philip Morris and six other American cigarette companies testified before Congress that nicotine was not addictive. Even under oath, the tobacco giants continued their decadeslong practice of gaslighting the public about the negative effects of cigarettes, which were once actually marketed by doctors. The image of seven CEOs being sworn in to answer for their companies’ misdeeds has endured as a powerful visual shorthand for modern corporate villainy. As the lethal effects of cigarettes were drilled into the minds of young would-be smokers by middle school counselors and aggressive ad campaigns, smoking entered an ongoing decline in usage. Big Tobacco had been felled.

Or so it seemed. In late December a Virginia-based conglomerate called Altria bought a 35 percent stake in the San Francisco startup Juul Labs for almost $13 billion. Juul is a maker of e-cigarettes and says its goal is to help adults quit smoking. Altria is the rebranded version of Philip Morris, whose entire corporate directive is to get adults to keep smoking. Juul says its wild popularity among teens is an unfortunate accident. Philip Morris once wrote an internal memo that said, “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.”

This seems like a horrible corporate mismatch, unless you see it for what it is: the pairing of two scheming businesses deftly executing a long con. In the decades since Big Tobacco took so many PR lumps that its biggest player had to change its name, tech has emerged as the sector most likely to sell people a bill of goods. Phones that were supposed to make us more efficient have made us less so. Social networks that were supposed to bring us all together have repeatedly driven us apart. By joining forces with its professed enemy, Juul is skipping a bit ahead in the Silicon Valley startup timeline, which generally follows a three-step track: (1) Don’t be evil; (2) be evil sometimes, but only when it’s in service of a greater societal good; (3) actually, being evil is fine.

 

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