On May 21st, City Council unanimously passed Worthington’s Tobacco 21 ordinance, becoming the 11th city in Ohio to successfully raise the age to purchase tobacco and tobacco related products to 21. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and youth are particularly susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine. By raising the age to purchase tobacco products, the City aims to protect the health and improve the lives of youth in our community by reducing the number of young people who begin this dangerous and addictive habit in the first place.
The new law does not criminalize possession of tobacco and related products by individuals under 21, instead focusing on ensuring that retailers do not sell to those persons. Retailers will be required to purchase a license to sell tobacco products and post signs indicating the new minimum age for purchases. Products included are those made of or derived from tobacco such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, electronic smoking devices including e-cigarettes and vape pens, and related paraphernalia. Noncompliant retailers will face increasing fines and the possible revocation of their license for failing to ask for proof of age for customers under 30 or for selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. The law will take effect July 1st, however there will be no fines or penalties enforced during an educational period, which runs through October 1st.
The City of Worthington contracts with Columbus Public Health for its health services, so the law mirrors that of the City of Columbus. Columbus Public Health will be responsible for implementing and enforcing the law. Find more information here.