The Upper Arlington City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night that will raise the age of tobacco purchases to 21 years old.
In front of a mostly-supportive crowd, the council voted 7-0 to increase the minimum age for cigarettes, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine sales within the city from 18 to 21 years old.
According to an ordinance, the change “would reduce tobacco use and improve public health in Franklin County.”
“The city of Upper Arlington has a history of being a leader in the anti-smoking efforts, being one of the first communities in the State to enact an indoor smoking ban and the first to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors,” the ordinance stated.
Dr. Rob Crane, associate professor of family medicine at Ohio State University was one of the driving forces behind the new law. “I think that we know that kids are hardwired to take risks,” Crane said.
Crane cited a Massachusetts study that found that 90 percent of those purchasing tobacoo products between the ages of 18 and 21 are the suppliers for kids under 18. “So if you can interrupt that supply chain it makes a huge difference,” Crane said.
The lone voice of opposition at the city council meeting was Evan Lewis, a 19 year old smoker. “According to the federal government I’m old enough to give my life for this country but according to Upper Arlington, if this legislation is adopted I will not be old enough to make otherwise legal decisions on my own,” Lewis said.
City officials began discussing the change in April. The Upper Arlington Board of Health approved the proposal in May. The resolution will take effect next month.
The city could impose up to a $500 fine to those found selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old.