Cottonwood passes ordinance to raise smoking age

A Arizona city is joining dozens of other cities in changing the minimum age for tobacco

An Arizona city is joining the list of dozens of others across the US that have changed their minimum age for tobacco use.

Right now, at least 145 cities around the country raised the minimum age to buy cigarettes, other tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21.

Some of those cities include Boston, New York City, Cleveland, Chicago and Kansas City.

Only two states -- California and Hawaii -- have changed the tobacco age. Most states set the legal smoking age at 18.

Now, the city of Cottonwood, Arizona, will be the first in the state to follow the national trend with an ordinance that just passed. 

"It makes me feel really proud," Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens said.

She helped make state history. "It was a unanimous decision. It surprised me, but it was unanimous."

Last week, the Cottonwood City Council passed an ordinance that raises the legal age to buy, possess and use tobacco from 18 to 21. The new ordinance also increases the age of people vendors can legally sell tobacco products to.

The push to make the change came from a group of local high school-age kids. Known as the YATCY group, the group of teens presented the case to the council at the regularly scheduled meeting last week.

"They just rocked their facts. They came at the council with the facts about lifelong health problems, and even death," Joens said.

The change has a lot of people talking.

"I think when kids start smoking at a younger age, they do it because they think it’s cool; it’s something to do. But when they get older, I think they start thinking about things a little bit more," Cottonwood resident Eric Dalton said.

Resident Jeri Scott said, "Alcohol, tobacco -- you know, all of that, should be uniform and consistent, not just in a city and a state, but nationally."

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from the vote. And because of it, the City will lose some tax revenue.

"We’re going to lose about $50,000 in taxes, but our council was very adamant that the money doesn’t matter as much as our youth and their health and their longevity," Joens said.

The mayor also says the council will be revisiting the ordinance to make adjustments as time goes on.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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