Michigan has its first city where an individual needs to be at least 21 years old to purchase tobacco products, e-cigarettes and similar products, as the Ann Arbor City Council voted 9-2 on Thursday night to increase the minimum purchase age, though it may result in a court battle for the city.
A state law, the Tobacco Products Tax Act of 1993, prohibits local governments from imposing any new requirements or prohibitions pertaining to the sale or licensure of tobacco products for distribution purposes. Some city council members felt that this could be grounds for the city being sued and having to go through the legal process, or if nothing less being forced to repeal the increase. Others, however, believe the Act pertains to distributors of tobacco, not the retail sale of it, which would leave the age increase alone, according to a report from Mlive.com.
The increase is also notable because Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, which has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 28,000 students. The city itself is home to approximately 120,000 residents.
The change goes into effect on Jan. 1, with retailers subject to fines up to $500 for selling tobacco products to a person under 21-years-old. Possession or usage of tobacco products by those under 21 will not be a crime, however, as the approved changes repealed text that made it illegal for a person under 18 to possess or use tobacco.