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Health & Science

Akron Council is Expected to Vote Tonight on Raising Sales of Tobacco to Age 21

Map of Tobacco 21 efforts
Two other Ohio cities -- Cleveland and Columbus --have raised the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21.

Akron City Council is expected to vote tonight on whether to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to those under 21. Proponents hope the rest of the Summit County will follow Akron’s lead.  

Those pushing to increase the age from 18 to 21 include public health officials, pediatricians, the national group Tobacco21 and the head of the city’s effort to combat infant mortality. They note that 2 percent of tobacco sales are to people under age 21 -- but those sales end up producing 90 percent of new smokers.

No one has lobbied openly against the proposal. But at a committee meeting earlier this month, council member Donnie Kammer riased questions with Helath Commissioner Donna Skoda about fairness.  

“I want you to vote, I want you to serve in our military, but when you’re 19 years old, nah, I don’t want you to smoke.’”

“With all respect: That is what we should be doing. We at all costs should be protecting every single child’s brain until they’re at least 21, 22, 23 years old, until we know it’s developed, from all substances, including trauma.”

About half of the 460 businesses in Summit County licensed to sell tobacco products are in Akron. Skoda has been meeting with other officials in the county to talk about raising their minimum ages as well.