ARIZONA NEWS

Tempe to consider increasing age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21

Oct 9, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:03 pm

The Tempe City Council will vote later this month on an ordinance to increase the age to buy tobacc...

The Tempe City Council will vote later this month on an ordinance to increase the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

PHOENIX — The Tempe City Council will vote later this month on an ordinance to increase the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The city will host a pair of public hearings — the first of which is Thursday — on the ordinance that would also implement a licensing program for tobacco retailers.

The second public hearing and the council vote will occur Oct. 26. Both hearings will happen at 6 p.m.

Why does Tempe want to increase the age to buy tobacco products?

About half of Arizona high school students have tried electronic vaping products, according to the state’s health department.

Arizona is also one of 10 states without a tobacco licensing registry, meaning retailers who get caught selling to minors can continue even after repeated violations.

Tempe wants to implement a citywide registry in order to enact penalties to help with compliance.

Other Arizona cities, including Tucson and Flagstaff, have passed similar ordinances in alignment with federal legislation signed into law in 2019.

The current proposal doesn’t include a ban on flavored tobacco products.

What would Tempe’s tobacco penalties look like with the ordinance?

The East Valley city has a list of penalties it would want to implement for offenders.

Here are the proposed penalties:

First violation: $500 and the agent of the tobacco retailer must attend an Arizona retail tobacco training class
Second violation: $750 and the tobacco retailer is prohibited from selling tobacco products for seven days
Third violation: $750 and the tobacco retailer is prohibited from selling tobacco products for 30 days
Fourth violation: $1,000 and license revocation

The proposed tobacco seller’s annual license would cost $300 and fees/penalties would go toward enforcement.

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Tempe to consider increasing age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21