Tempe City Council approves raising age to buy tobacco products to 21

Tempe City Council approved raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21 but addiction specialists say more is needed to combat teen use.
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 8:27 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The Tempe City Council passed on Thursday an ordinance that raises the age for buying tobacco products in the city from 18 to 21. The vote was unanimous. The ordinance is now in line with federal laws.

Arizona is one of 10 states that doesn’t have a statewide tobacco licensing registry. Under the new ordinance, stores must pay an annual licensing fee of $300. If a store is caught violating the rules, like selling to kids, it’ll be hit with a $500 fine for the first violation and attend retail tobacco training class. A second violation means a $750 fine; the store can’t sell tobacco products for a week. A third violation will result in a $750 fine and a monthly ban from selling tobacco products. If there’s a fourth violation, the store will get fined $1,000, and its license will be removed.

Tucson and Flagstaff have passed similar tobacco licensing ordinances. The federal law raising the minimum age to buy tobacco was signed into law in 2019. Thursday’s vote came after two public hearings.

The ordinance doesn’t ban flavored tobacco products, which some say are more appealing to kids. According to the CDC, 80.2% of high school students and 74.6% of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product in 2021.

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