The Healdsburg City Council has taken a significant step forward in the process of raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the city from 18 to 21, voting 3-1 on Tuesday to have the city attorney prepare an ordinance to be introduced in the near future.
The council made plans for the ordinance in December 2013, but had asked City Attorney David Warner to investigate any possibilities that they might be exposing themselves to a lawsuit should the ordinance be implemented. The initial prompting for the change came in October 2013 from retired Healdsburg physician David Anderson, who said in addition to discouraging teens from starting to smoke, the move would “send a message young people, parents, educators and visitors,” according to PressDemocrat.com. After the meeting, he told the paper that “this may be the biggest thing I’ve accomplished as far as saving lives.”
While the specific language has yet to be revealed, the ordinance is expected to focus on two areas: raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and creating a tobacco retailers licensing program that will be used to enforce the change. It is not expected to make smoking or otherwise consuming tobacco products illegal for those under 21.
If passed, it would make Healdsburg the first city in California to raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21, a trend that has gained momentum in the past two years with New York City raising the age in November 2013 and numerous other municipalities considering similar measures.