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Soon smokers under age 21 won’t be able to buy tobacco in Ann Arbor

Dec 26, 2016

The city joins a growing movement aimed at improving public health.

A local law banning retailers in Ann Arbor from selling cigarettes to those under age 21 takes effect January 1. The local law restricts retailers from selling tobacco to people under 21 but it doesn’t target 18 to 21 year olds for possessing cigarettes.

Backers hope the change will help prevent younger teens from having easy access to cigarettes from their 18-year-old high school peers. In a written statement, Ann Arbor leaders call tobacco use among University of Michigan undergrads and teens a “significant” public health concern. Around 1 in 10 high school students in Washtenaw County says they’ve smoked cigarettes.

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.

Earlier this month Muskegon County officials supported a resolution asking lawmakers to increase the age to 21 statewide.