Ohio suburb’s ban makes under-21 smoking a low-level crime


GRANDVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — A suburb of Ohio’s capital has banned sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to people under 21, making it a low-level misdemeanor crime for them to use such products.

The council in Grandview Heights approved the ordinance Monday. It goes beyond tobacco sales restrictions recently passed in nearby Upper Arlington and Bexley because it allows for penalizing underage smokers, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1ONFEUw ) reported.

Grandview Councilman Chris Smith said the ordinance he sponsored was meant to “discourage gateway behavior.” Smith said that prosecutors will have discretion in citing sellers or underage users, who wouldn’t be charged if they’re with a parent or a spouse over 21.

The ordinance will take effect in 30 days. It will ban the sale of cigarettes and tobacco, electronic devices, liquid nicotine, hookah and other smoking-related products to those younger than 21.

Anyone who sells a product to an underage person will receive a warning for the first offense. A second offense could result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

The underage offender would be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and could be ordered to take a smoking-education class, perform 20 hours of community service and pay a fine of $100.

Former criminal-defense lawyer Ed Hastie was the only council member to vote against the measure.

“You realize we actually made it a crime for a 19-year-old to have a smoke in this city?” Hastie said. “It’s an individual-liberty thing.”

The state has not made a move to raise the legal age for tobacco use from 18.

Associated Press

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