Lakewood councilman wants to raise tobacco use age to 21

Lakewood councilman wants to raise tobacco use age to 21
Vaping products — including e-cigarettes, like the popular JUUL — are subject to the state’s sales tax, but no other special tax. (Source: Sarah Johnson, flickr) (File photo)

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Lakewood city councilman John Litten has introduced legislation that would raise the minimum tobacco use age from 18 to 21.

Lakewood councilman wants to raise tobacco use age to 21

In an open letter posted to Twitter and Facebook, Litten praised state laws that have improved general awareness of the risks posed by tobacco, but also provided two reasons they don’t go far enough:

1. More than 95% of addicted smokers start before age 21, with 350 youth becoming regular smokers each day in the United States. Early exposure to nicotine increases the risk of addiction and puts adolescents at a higher risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

2. The increase in use of tobacco substitutes, which, while very helpful to tobacco users’ ability to quit smoking, have given rise to a new way for people, especially young people, to become addicted to nicotine, with the full side effects of use not yet known. While actual tobacco use in teenagers has decreased nationally, the use of any tobacco product or substitute has actually increased.

The legislation extends beyond just cigarettes to include smokeless tobacco and vaping.

Litten said he proposed Ordinance 75-18 in honor of his father, who, despite having quit smoking decades earlier, died of lung cancer five years ago.

(Image credit: Sarah Johnson, flickr/Black Note)

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