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Advocates Push to Ensure Akron Includes E-cigs in Raising the Age to Buy Tobacco Products

Akron City Council chambers
WKSU public radio
City Council's Health and Social Services Committee raised questions about enforcement and e-cigarettes.

Akron City Council has again delayed a vote on an ordinance that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in the city from 18 to 21. WKSU’S M.L. Schultze has more on questions about how e-cigarettes will be regulated.  

Much of the testimony to council’s public health committee Monday focused on vaping, and a preliminary request by the industry to be exempt from the higher age-limit. Dr. Norman Christopher, a pediatrician and board member of the American Heart Association, says despite marketing campaigns, e-cigarettes include many of the same carcinogens as other tobacco products, as well as addictive nicotine.

“It is a reasonable assumption that if vaping products are excluded from Tobacco21 legislation, that the industry would intensify its efforts to market vaping products as a safe alternative to the under 21 population.”

Tamiyka Rose
Credit M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU public radio
WKSU public radio
Tamiyka Rose says there's not reason to exempt e-cigarettes.

Tamiyka Rose is Akron’s health equity ambassador and wants to ensure e-cigarettes are included.

“It is not regulated by the FDA and we don’t have any studies about what the long-term effect of vaping truly is. And children are in the schools now passing along vaping devices that look like USBs.”

Cleveland and Columbus both have adopted the Tobacco21 legislation. Under Akron’s law, retailers with repeat violations would be fined civilly. Enforcement would be up to the Summit County Public Health, which says it would take three to six months to develop the rules.   That would be followed with an education program for young people and businesses.

Here's a link to a  study by the American Academy of Pediatricson e-cigarettes.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.