Increase of Tobacco-Buying Age to 21 Proposed to County Commissioners
Muskegon County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a resolution that supports raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products.
At a full board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20, the commissioners unanimously voted to support an initiative called “Tobacco 21,” which aims to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. Behind the resolution is the Knowsmoke Coalition, a Muskegon County anti-smoking group. The resolution was introduced at board committee meeting Thursday, Dec. 15. Cyndi Powers, Knowsmoke Coalition co-chair, said reducing young peoples’ access to tobacco is the group’s focus.
“Studies have shown if we keep a child from smoking until after they’re 21, the chances of them being a long-term addicted smoker is a lot less,” Powers said.
According to an update from the One in 21 initiative, which is striving to make Muskegon County the state’s healthiest county by 2021, the rate of adult smoking in the county improved to slightly below the state average. Kendall Stagg, director of safety net transformation and community health innovation for Trinity Health, said the next step is to inform the public about Tobacco 21. “Beyond 200 jurisdictions have passed this law, so it truly is a national movement, it’s sweeping the nation,” Stagg said.
California and Hawaii, in addition to 212 cities and counties in the United States, have banned tobacco sales to people younger than 21-years-old, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. In Michigan, Ann Arbor became the first city to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the from 18 to 21. An ordinance was adopted by its city council in August.
Supporters of the Ann Arbor ordinance claimed it would make it harder for teens to be introduced to nicotine or tobacco products. However, opponents argued people younger than 21-years-old could drive to other municipalities to purchase those products.