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Cincinnati Raises Legal Age To Buy Cigarettes To 21


Updated: Friday, 8:54 a.m.

Cincinnati Council voted Wednesday for an ordinance raising the age to buy tobacco in the city from 18 to 21.

The final vote was 5-3. Council members voting in favor included Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, P.G. Sittenfeld, Christopher Smitherman and Wendell Young. Those opposed were David Mann, Jeff Pastor and Chris Seelbach. Amy Murray was absent from Wednesday's meeting.

The ordinance would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. That includes cigarettes, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and snuff.

A first violation would carry a fine of $500 and a second violation would increase to $1,250.

It would also require businesses to pay $500 a year for a tobacco retail license to the city. There would be a $75 penalty for a late application or fee payment.

"With this vote, we can make an entire generation and the generation after that infinitely healthier," said Landsman.

Seelbach said he was conflicted about the decision.

"I can't get past the fact that I philosophically believe that government should not tell adults what they can or can't do with their own body, and I can’t get past that," he said.

A city report said other Ohio cities with a similar law include Akron, Dublin, Columbus and Cleveland.

The ordinance states "the ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use, and tobacco industry documents show that those who start smoking by the age of 18 are almost twice as likely to become lifetime smokers as those who start after they turn 21."

The city is getting a $200,000 grant from Interact for Health to help with enforcing the ordinance for the first two years.

Opponents say the measure will hurt businesses in Cincinnati and raising the age to buy tobacco won't stop the illegal use of cigarettes and other products.

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.