BRENDAN CLARK ’21
The Hartford City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 which raised the age for the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. The ordinance, introduced by Councilman Larry Deutsch, according to a press release from the American Lung Association, is a first in the State of Connecticut.
The ordinance came on the heals of an announcement from the Connecticut Department of Public Health which, according to the press release, revealed that the percentage of high school students using electronic cigarettes and associated products had doubled over the course of two years. This report indicated that 14.7% of high school students used electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), whereas in 2015 that number stood at 7.2%.
According to an Oct. 22 Hartford Courant article by Jeanna Carlesso, the ordinance bans the “sale of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or pipe tobacco to people younger than 21.” The ordinance also bans “the sale of vaping products, which contain nicotine, to those under 21.”
The Courant reported that there are approximately 240 businesses licensed to sell tobacco in Hartford and noted that the ordinance would take effect immediately. Fines of “$250 may be levied for each violation, and the city could suspend tobacco licenses for those who flout the mandate.”
Council President Glendowlyn Thames called the mandate an “opportunity to be a leader.” Despite this enthusiasm, business owners have expressed mixed reactions according to the Courant, with many voicing concern about the ban on e-cigarette and vaping products. These include Peter Patel, owner of a Mobil station on Washington Street, who told the Courant his concerns that “fewer businesses are going to come here if this continues.” Despite this opposition, the ordinance was in effect as of Monday, Oct. 22.
Previous ordinances have been passed statewide across the country in the following states: California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, and Massachusetts.