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Akron Raises Minimum Age For Buying Tobacco To 21

By M.L. Schultze, WKSU

Akron’s minimum age to buy tobacco products is going up from 18 to 21. But opponents and even some supporters are expressing reservations.

After a month of debate, the final Akron City Council vote was eight in favor, three opposed and two abstentions.

Among the opponents was Marilyn Keith, who questioned why the city should block what would otherwise be a legal sale to an adult.

“I believe if I am for this legislation, I am saying that adults at the age of 18, 19, and 20 are incompetent and do not have the capacity to make this decision themselves, so we must make it for them,” Keith said.

But Dr. Rob Crane of Ohio State, the head of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, said the change is actually to help younger children, for whom 18-to-20-year-olds are often a conduit.

“They are the major suppliers,” Crane said. “They’re 90 percent suppliers to young people. And we know that, the data shows us that, if you raise the age to 21, you reduce high-school smoking by half.”

The Summit County Public Health Department will be in charge of enforcement. It will spend the next six months working out the rules and setting up education efforts with retailers.

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