Just about six months after Ann Arbor, Mich. approved an increase in the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, the state’s attorney general has declared it to be in direct conflict with the state’s Age of Majority Act.
The Act, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1972, defines the age of majority or legal age as being 18 or more years of age. In an opinion issued on Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wrote that “It is my opinion, therefore, that the Age of Majority Act…preempts a city ordinance that provides ‘a person shall not sell, give or furnish a tobacco product in any form to a person under 21 years of age.’ The ordinance directly conflicts with state law by barring the sale or furnishing of tobacco products to 18- to 20-year-olds because the Age of Majority Act prohibits treating these young adults differently from persons 21 years and older with respect to their legal capacity to purchase tobacco products.”
The request for the attorney general to issue an opinion came from State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Lansing, who said he has heard concerns that the increase was simply driving business out of Ann Arbor and into neighboring cities.
The increase went into effect on Jan. 1 and made Ann Arbor the first city in Michigan to enact such an increase.
Ann Arbor is home to 120,000 residents, as well as the University of Michigan, which has just over 28,000 undergraduate students.
The original headline of this article implied the increase had been overturned, when in fact that attorney general’s opinion is not a legal judgment. We regret the error. Since publication, at least one city council member has said she expects to fight any challenges to the increase, according to MLive.com.
Update: On Tuesday, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor took to Facebook to say that the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the city remains at 21. He wrote:
Tobacco 21 prevents tobacco addiction, a lifetime of smoking-related disease, and early death.
I support Ann Arbor’s Tobacco 21 ordinance. The law remains on the books and it is the obligation of retailers in Ann Arbor to comply. If the law is challenged, I will do everything I can to ensure that we successfully defend it.
Thank you, CM Grand for your leadership on this issue.
This story was originally published on Feb. 6.