ARIZONA NEWS

Tempe City Council votes to increase age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21

Oct 27, 2023, 12:30 PM

The Tempe City Council unanimously voted to increase the purchasing age of tobacco from 18 to 21 on...

The Tempe City Council unanimously voted to increase the purchasing age of tobacco from 18 to 21 on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PHOENIX — The Tempe City Council unanimously voted Thursday to increase the purchasing age of tobacco from 18 to 21.

The East Valley city held a pair of public meetings before the vote, which also implements a licensing program for tobacco retailers.

The ordinance doesn’t include a ban on flavored tobacco products, a further step the City Council would like to see put in place in the future.

“Something I’m interested in is banning all flavored tobaccos in the city of Tempe,” Councilmember Doreen Garlid said.

What will Tempe’s tobacco penalties look like?

The East Valley city has a list of penalties it will implement for offenders.

Here are the 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.

A tobacco seller’s annual license will cost $300, and fees/penalties will go toward enforcement.

Why did Tempe change its tobacco regulations?

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

Tempe will 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.

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Tempe City Council votes to increase age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21