Lakewood councilman proposing legislation to raise minimum smoke age to 21

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- Legislators in Lakewood, Ohio are looking to raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21-years-old.

According to a Tweet from Councilman John Litten, he will be introducing the legislation at the city's council meeting on Monday.

His proposed ordinance, if approved, would raise Lakewood's minimum age for usage of tobacco and tobacco substitute to 21.

In a letter addressed to his colleagues, Litten states that although general awareness of the negative health impacts of tobacco use has increased,  and the overall use of tobacco has decreased, there are still two negative effects:

The first being that 95% of addicted smokers reportedly start smoking before the age of 21 and that 350 youth become regular smokers every day in the United States.  He argues that early exposure to nicotine increases the risk of addiction and puts adolescents at a higher risk for health issues such as depression, substance abuse and anxiety.

The second, Litten argues, is that the increase in nicotine alternatives has given people, especially youth, a new way to become addicted to nicotine.  He said that although tobacco use in teenagers has decreased across the nation, tobacco substitute usage has increased.

Litten said he is "confident that this legislation, with proper enforcement, will help to limit access to these products and stem the tide of youth becoming addicted to nicotine while also lengthening their overall health and lifespan."

If passed, Lakewood would be joining a number of towns in different states across the nation in this movement.  They would also be the 17th city in Ohio, including Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati to raise the age for tobacco sales to 21.

The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the state of Ohio is 18.

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