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Pima Co to vote on raising age to buy nicotine products

Jump from age 18 to 21
Posted at 7:09 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 20:15:59-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - There’s a new move to keep tobacco---and nicotine vapes---away from kids.

Pima County and the City of Tucson will consider a law to age the legal age to buy those products. Plans call for both to vote on proposals in early August.

Worries about the health effects of tobacco, and the strong appeal of nicotine vapor dispensers to teenagers and younger, Pima County has drawn up a proposed law to raise the legal age for tobacco and nicotine vapes from 18 to 21.

Rebecca O'Brien leads the tobacco and chronic disease program for the Pima County Health Department. She says, "Vaping has gone up pretty significantly among youth and young adults. That's also nationwide. And that's something we're seeing here in Pima County is an uptick in the number of young people that are using vaping products in particular. So tobacco use traditional tobacco use smoking cigarettes has remained relatively the same. But vaping has gone up pretty significantly."

As Pima County Supervisors consider the proposed law, Tucson City Councilmembers are considering a very similar proposal.

The plan calls for tobacco and vape sellers to pay for permits intended to cover the costs of the program. Sellers could face fines and permit suspensions if they sell to anyone underaged.

We wanted to get the perspective of shops that sell these products so we went to several but no one was willing to talk on camera.

Part of the hope is that raising the legal age to buy nicotine will also keep teens who can buy legally from buying nicotine products for teens who are still underaged.

If the county and city ordinances pass as planned, they'll take effect January 1st. To avoid taking a privilege away from someone who already had it, people who are eighteen when the law takes effect will be exempt and still able to buy nicotine.