Ann Arbor Raises Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

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Effective Jan. 1, 2017

December 22, 2016 - ​On Jan. 1, 2017, Ann Arbor will be the first city in Michigan to join the Tobacco 21 national movement by implementing an ordinance that raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. 

Tobacco 21 policy targets initiation, as well as the transition period from experimental to regular tobacco use. By curtailing social sources of tobacco products, the Institute of Medicine found that raising the minimum legal age of access to 21 will likely delay initiation and reduce tobacco prevalence across all ages with the largest proportionate reduction in initiation likely occurring among adolescents age 15-17.

Tobacco use in Ann Arbor continues to be a significant public health concern for youth, as evidenced by 9.2 percent of Washtenaw County high school students reporting that they have smoked a cigarette. Raising the minimum legal age for tobacco sales is important to protect the particularly large population of individuals under the age of 21 in the city of Ann Arbor, including the University of Michigan undergraduate population.

Section 9:328b of Chapter 118 of Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor- "Providing tobacco products or electronic smoking devices to persons under 21" states:  

(a) A person shall not sell, give or furnish a tobacco product in any form to a person under 21 years of age. "Tobacco Product" means any product that contains tobacco, is derived from tobacco, or contains synthetically produced nicotine and is intended for human consumption.

"Tobacco Product" does not include any cessation product specifically approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in treating nicotine or tobacco dependence.

(b)  A person shall not sell, give or furnish any electronic smoking device to a person under 21 years of age. "Electronic Smoking Device" means an electronic and/or battery-operated device, which when used resembles the smoking of a tobacco product and delivers an inhaled dose of nicotine or other substances. Any such smoking device includes, whether manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold as an electronic cigarette, an electronic cigar, an electronic cigarillo, an electronic pipe, an electronic hookah, or any other product name or descriptor. "Electronic Smoking Device" does not include any product specifically approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.

One of the additional benefits of the proposed ordinance is the repeal of penalties for underage possession of tobacco products. Effective tobacco prevention policy should not punish adolescents and young adults for experimentation with or addiction to tobacco products. Instead, violations and penalties are limited to retailers. Penalties can be assessed up to $500, which allows for discretionary actions, including education and warnings.

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Contact Information

Lisa Wondrash
Communications Unit Manager
734.794.6000 x41511

Ann Arbor has 119,000 residents, spans 28.9 square miles and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit. To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates, follow us on Twitter or become a city fan on Facebook. The city's mission is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community.