Lakewood City Council Raises the Age from 18 to 21 to Purchase Tobacco & Nicotine ProductsMarch 25, 2019
On Monday, March 18th, Lakewood City Council unanimously adopted legislation to raise the minimum age for sale of all tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21. In doing so, Lakewood joins seven states and over 450 municipalities across the country, including twenty-one Ohio communities which have passed similar laws since 2015.
The legislation was proposed by Ward 3 Councilmember John Litten in response to the recent nationwide surge in use of alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes among youth. “After considering that 95% of addicted smokers initiate smoking before age 21 and seeing how similar laws have reduced rates of tobacco use in other communities, I was compelled to bring this proposal before my Council colleagues,” said Mr. Litten.
“This change strikes the right balance by raising the age, but also decriminalizing our enforcement. Council worked hard to make sure that this law isn’t about punishing small businesses or kids, but is instead about making a meaningful difference in the health of our community and our young people’s future,” Council President Sam O’Leary said.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health and Mayor Summers’ administration worked collaboratively with Council over two Health & Human Services Committee hearings and three readings at Council Meetings to craft legislation specific to Lakewood’s needs. Mayor Summers endorsed the legislation with his signature the day after passage. “This new policy is consistent with our opportunity to think anew about becoming and staying healthy,” said Mayor Summers. “I am grateful for City Council’s leadership on this initiative. Forward-thinking communities across the country are stepping up their protection of our youth. Lakewood now joins these cities.”
The City will partner with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to enforce the ordinance. Prior to implementation, the Board will proactively reach out to all Lakewood tobacco and nicotine retailers with information and education about the new requirements and provide the required signage. “The Board really sees this as a long-term partnership with retailers. We are prepared to provide the materials and invest the time necessary working with them to ensure that they have everything they need to be compliant with the new requirements,” said Rick Novickis, Director of Environmental Public Health at the Board.
The new ordinance imposes fines and the revocation of a retailer’s permit to sell tobacco and nicotine products if they fail to comply with the new requirements.
Visit http://www.onelakewood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/76-18-Tobacco-21.pdf to view the legislation. For additional information, please contact the Cuyahoga County Board of Health at (216)201-2000 ext.1200.