BROOK PARK, Ohio — An Ohio law takes effect on Oct. 17 that prohibits the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to people ages 20 and younger, but Brook Park likely will pass its own legislation, possibly at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting, to greater impose the restriction.
Rick Novickis, director of environmental health for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, praised Brook Park for its efforts during City Council’s Oct. 8 caucus.
“The state does not want to preclude anything that local jurisdictions are doing,” Novickis said. “We’re excited Brook Park would consider being the eighth community in our jurisdiction (to pass ‘tobacco 21 legislation’).”
He explained approximately 95 percent of addicted smokers acquired the habit before the age of 21.
“If you really attack it in the youth and teenage years, you potentially can help that person live longer and impact productivity in society,” Novickis said, adding most kids get their nicotine products from someone else.
Council President Mike Vecchio, the lone smoker on the dais, emphasized the difficulty in trying to quit.
“Had I not started before the age of 21, I can tell you I probably never would have started smoking,” Vecchio said.
The Brook Park legislation would create a new chapter in the codified ordinances. Vendors would be required to check the identification of anyone “who appears to be under the age of 30,” the ordinance indicates, and cigarette/nicotine products vending machines must be secured in an area where people younger than 21 are not permitted. An annual revocable, non-transferable permit to sell tobacco products is required.
Vendors also must post signs indicating the state’s new 21-and-over age requirement.
Businesses who violate the new law will receive a warning for a first violation, and a $250 fine for the second offense. A third violation within five years of the first one will result in a $500 fine, with a fourth violation resulting in a $1,000 fine. Violations thereafter will necessitate a review of the vendor’s permit.
For Councilman Rick Salvatore, oversight of the new law is the key.
“It’s just a matter of the delivery of it,” Salvatore said. “If we don’t enforce it, we didn’t really accomplish anything.”
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