Ann Arbor Becomes First City in Michigan to Raise Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

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ANN ARBOR, Mich., August 9, 2016 — On Thursday, August 4, the Ann Arbor City Council approved an ordinance to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Ann Arbor from 18 to 21 effective January 1, 2017. Ann Arbor becomes the first city in Michigan to pass an ordinance in support of the Tobacco 21 national movement, which has been implemented in dozens of cities across the country, including the states of California and Hawaii. Community supporters of Tobacco 21, including Washtenaw County Public Health and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, believe raising the legal purchase age of tobacco products will help to prevent early tobacco addiction and prevent adverse health effects. “The passage of this ordinance demonstrates the Ann Arbor City Council’s commitment to the health and well-being of the community," said Michael Miller, regional chief mission officer, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. "I look forward to other Michigan municipalities following the Council’s courageous leadership.” Tobacco 21 policy targets initiation, as well as the transition period from experimental to regular tobacco use. By curtailing social sources of tobacco products, the Institute of Medicine found that raising the minimum legal age of access to 21 will likely delay initiation and reduce tobacco prevalence across all ages with the largest proportionate reduction in initiation likely occurring among adolescents age 15-17. Tobacco use in Ann Arbor continues to be a significant public health concern for youth, as evidenced by 9.2 percent of Washtenaw County high school students reporting that they have smoked a cigarette. Raising the minimum legal age for tobacco sales is important to protect the particularly large population of individuals under the age of 21 in the city of Ann Arbor, including the University of Michigan undergraduate population, which includes more than 28,000 students. Section 9:328b of Chapter 118 of Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor- “Providing tobacco products or electronic smoking devices to persons under 21” states: (a) A person shall not sell, give or furnish a tobacco product in any form to a person under 21 years of age. “Tobacco Product” means any product that contains tobacco, is derived from tobacco, or contains synthetically produced nicotine and is intended for human consumption. “Tobacco Product” does not include any cessation product specifically approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in treating nicotine or tobacco dependence. (b) A person shall not sell, give or furnish any electronic smoking device to a person under 21 years of age. “Electronic Smoking Device” means an electronic and/or battery-operated device, which when used resembles the smoking of a tobacco product and delivers an inhaled dose of nicotine or other substances. Any such smoking device includes, whether manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold as an electronic cigarette, an electronic cigar, an electronic cigarillo, an electronic pipe, an electronic hookah, or any other product name or descriptor. “Electronic Smoking Device” does not include any product specifically approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. One of the additional benefits of the proposed ordinance is the repeal of penalties for underage possession of tobacco products. Effective tobacco prevention policy should not punish adolescents and young adults for experimentation with or addiction to tobacco products. Instead, violations and penalties are limited to retailers. Penalties can be assessed up to $500, which allows for discretionary actions, including education and warnings. During the coming months, the City of Ann Arbor will work with its community partners to educate the public about this new ordinance as well as impacted retailers. Learn more about the national Tobacco21 initiative online. # # # # # About the City of Ann Arbor Ann Arbor has 117,000 residents, spans 28.6 square miles and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit. To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates, follow us on Twitter or become a city fan on Facebook. The city’s mission is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community. About Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is a health care organization serving seven counties in southeast Michigan including Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Jackson, and Lenawee. It includes 537-bed St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, 443-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, 304-bed St. Mary Mercy Livonia, 136-bed St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell, and 133-bed St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. Combined, the five hospitals are licensed for 1,553 beds, have five outpatient health centers, six urgent care facilities, more than 25 specialty centers; employ more than 13,400 individuals and have a medical staff of nearly 2,700 physicians. SJMHS has annual operating revenues of about $1.9 billion and returns about $120 million to its communities annually through charity care and community benefit programs. SJMHS is a member of Trinity Health, the third largest Catholic health care system in the country. Based in Livonia, Mich., Trinity Health operates in 21 states, employs about 95,000 people, has annual operating revenues of about $15.8 billion and assets of about $20.4 billion. Additionally, the organization returns almost $1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. For more information on health services offered at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit About Washtenaw County Public Health Washtenaw County Public Health promotes health and works to prevent disease or injury in our community. Working with community partners to promote equitable access to health care and resources for healthful living is critical part of our role. Washtenaw County Public Health achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board and maintains state accreditation though the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For more, visit or call 734-544-6700. Public Health is located at 555 Towner Street in Ypsilanti.
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