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City Council, Board of Supervisors delay vote on raising sales age of tobacco, nicotine products

Posted at 5:09 AM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 18:58:49-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Both of the Tucson City Council and Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to table the issue of raising the sales age of tobacco and nicotine products.

The City Council will take up the measure again in September.

The city council and board of supervisors decided to work on the ordinances together so they have the same enforcement and regulations.

"The goal is that Pima County and the City council act at the same time on the same day," said Councilman Paul Durham, who represents Ward 3.

Durham as well as the City Attorney's Office, the City Manager's Office, The Pima County Health Department, Pima County Attorney's Office and County Administration all worked on the ordinances.

RELATED: PIma County to vote on raising age to buy nicotine products

If the ordinances are approved the following will go into effect:

  • The minimum legal age to purchase tobacco will go from 18 to 21
  • A retail permit system will be created for tobacco retailers in unincorporated Pima County and replace the city's existing permit system with a mirror of the county's system
  • Include electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) in the tobacco ordinances

While city and county officials are hopeful both the city council and board of supervisors will approve the ordinances, some are hoping it doesn't happen.

KGUN9 spoke to local smoke shop owners and a smoke shop employee who said he was worried the ordinances would have a negative impact on business.

"I don't think it's a good idea from a business standpoint because it would take a lot, and on top of that I feel like I mean, 18, they're going to figure out a way to get it, regardless," said Shaun Fischer, a smoke shop employee.

The smoke shop owner told KGUN9 he's already had many instances where teens who aren't old enough to buy tobacco or nicotine products have tried asking someone in the parking lot to make the purchase for them. He added if these ordinances pass, then he doesn't see this behavior stopping anytime soon.

Both the city council and county board of supervisors have been working on their individual ordinances for about a year.

The city council first brought up raising the sales age of tobacco and nicotine products during a regularly scheduled meeting back in August of 2018.

RELATED: City council to discuss raising minimum purchasing age for tobacco, nicotine products

Before making a final decision, city and county staff decided to hold 12 community input meetings.

In total, there were 89 individuals who attended the meetings. The individuals belonged to several different sectors of the vaping industry.

During the community input meetings there were two suggestions that emerged.

The first suggestion asked individuals 18 to 21 at the time of the ordinance adoption be exempt. If both ordinances are approved, the these individuals can continue to purchase tobacco and nicotine products. Those under 18 would not be able to purchase these products until they turn 21.

The second suggestion suggested age appropriate customers have the ability to sample product at the owner's discretion.

If both the city council and county board of supervisors approve the ordinances, they will be implemented on January 1, 2020.

The Pima County board of supervisors are set to meet at 9:00 a.m., and the city council is set to meet at 5:30 p.m.