Cigarettes, tobacco and e-cigarettes would no longer be sold to people under age 21 in Cleveland, under a proposal approved by the city council. In a 13-3 vote Monday, the council approved the raising of the minimum age for the sale or distribution of tobacco products in the city, Fox News reported.
The ordinance, which would take effect in 2017, would make the first offense a fourth-degree misdemeanor and could potentially result in 30 days in jail or a $250 fine. Any additional offenses would be considered second-degree misdemeanors and could carry a sentence of 90 days in jail. The ordinance heads next to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to sign into law.
New York City, Hawaii County and Paterson, New Jersey, have passed similar laws, and other locales are looking to do the same. Lawmakers in California and Washington state have proposed raising the minimum age, the Atlantic reported.
Cleveland lawmakers proposed the ordinance in hopes that it would limit the number of minors getting their hands on tobacco products. Before voting, the council consulted a range of experts.
Dr. Rob Crane, president of Tobacco 21, an agency that advocates for the increase of the legal minimum sales age, testified at the city council meeting, according to Cleveland.com. He argued that there is strong evidence that suggests raising the legal minimum could decrease the number of adolescents who smoke by as much as 25 percent.
The city council is also pushing other measures to curb smoking in Cleveland. Lawmakers also passed a resolution to start hiring only non-smoker city employees by 2017. There is also another proposal on the table that would prohibit the sale of flavored products anywhere but retail tobacco stores.