A move to raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. It's called the T-21 initiative. And it's getting some momentum from Toledo City Councilwoman Yvonne Harper who took a special hearing on the matter to the auditorium at the Toledo Technology Academy. Harper, along with Councilman Larry Sykes hearing testimony from Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski. "We know that individuals who are 18 will buy cigarettes and give them to kids and we that the younger you start the more likely it is that you're going to continue," says Zgodzinski.
There are roughly 280 cities around the country, including Cleveland and Columbus, that have already enacted such measures. "In those that have, we've seen a reduction of 50% in adolescent smoking," says Dr. Amy Thompson Ph.D from the UT Department of Health. And Thompson goes on to say that if teens don't start smoking by the age of 18, they usually don't start. "90% of all smokers start by the age of 18," says Thompson.
Stopping teens teens before they pick up is essential, "Often times people just don't appreciate how addictive nicotine is, nicotine is as addictive as heroin," says Tavis Glassman who is a professor of public health at the University of Toledo.
The measure will need to be voted on by full city council in order to go into effect.