CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - In an effort to make Cleveland smoke-free, City Council members voted Monday to raise the age of those wanting to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. Council members voted 14-2 in favor of the age hike, which will also include E-cigarettes.
"These same kids are going to war by 18. The city of Cleveland Council is out of their minds," said Anthony Carter, manager of a convenience store in downtown Cleveland. "It's a right of passage and they should be able to do whatever they like."
He's not alone in his opposition to raising the age to 21.
"Honestly, I think it should stay 18. It's their choice if they want to smoke or not. I don't think the government should change that," said Melissa Ortiz.
No need to apply if you smoke. Council also passed a resolution that will stop the city from hiring smokers. But it will offer programs to help current employees who smoke.
"I think it's a good thing. We need to get the tobacco use off the streets among our teens. So, roll with it," said Lincoln Osborne.
Several operators of Cleveland gas stations say not being able to sell cigarettes to 18-year-olds is going to hurt their business, but not nearly as much as not being able to sell the flavored cigarettes, which are very popular.
"No, I'm not opposed. I'm 28. It's okay with me. I don't want to see kids out here with cigarettes anyway. It's already doing a number on my lungs and I hate to see the younger folks doing it," said Leroy Maloy.
Both proposals are waiting for Mayor Frank Jackson's signature.
In the last two years, more than 100 cities in eight states covering some 14 million people have raised their minimum age to 21.