Tobacco 21 proposal in Akron: Should age for buying tobacco products be raised?

AKRON, Ohio -- A proposed new law unveiled in Akron would raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Akron City Councilwoman Linda Omobien is cosponsoring the so-called Tobacco 21 proposal and says it is designed to give young people more time to consider the dangers of smoking.

"And everything we know about tobacco smoking is bad, okay, and we know that the surgeon generals for many many years have determined that smoking is one of the leading causes of most of the illnesses like cancer, respiratory diseases and so forth," Omobien said.

Some of the young students who are part of the population that Tobacco 21 is designed to protect endorse the proposed new law.

"Because I believe that smoking, it just doesn't affect you, it affects other people and just the people that you're walking past and you don't know about health conditions that they have," - said Kyla Decaty.

Other supporters point to studies that indicate consumers that have never used tobacco by age 21 are unlikely to ever start smoking, which makes young people key targets of Big Tobacco marketing campaigns.

Supporters of the Tobacco 21 movement say it's part of a strategy to address Akron's alarming mortality rate that has been linked, in part, to young expectant mothers smoking during their pregnancies. The infant mortality rate is among the highest in the country and a study found that pregnant women under the age of 21 smoke at a rate 70% higher than older expectant mothers.

A number of Akron-area doctors are among those voicing support for the Tobacco 21 initiative.