For the second time in about a week, a lawsuit has delayed the increase in the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. Last week, an increase in Revere, Mass. was delayed from May 1 to Sept. 1 after a convenience store filed an appeal; this week, Genessee County, Mich. delayed its increase after a lawsuit was filed by RPF Oil Company.
An oil company objecting to the increase might seem odd, but with RPF owning four convenience stores in Michigan and providing fuel and other services for many others, the motivation is quickly understood, as an increase would cut into those stores’ earnings by reducing the customer base.
RPF is claiming that the increase is in violation the state’s Age of Majority Act, which states that anyone age 18 and older is considered an adult of legal age “for all purposes whatsoever.” The increase was slated to go into effect on May 14 but has since been put on hold.
The potential conflict was raised when the Genesee County Board of Commissioners passed the increase by a 7-2 vote in Feb. 2017. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette opined that a similar increase to the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Ann Arbor, Mich. was likely in violation of the Act, though his opinion held no legal standing.
Genesee County’s attorney general also warned that the increase could come with unintended consequences, including a violation of the oath commissioners took to uphold the Constitution, which could be considered willful neglect of duty. That would be considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine, according to report.
A hearing is scheduled to begin on May 22.
Genesee County has a population of approximately 425,790 people, which makes it the fifth-most populous county in Michigan. It is located approximately 75 miles northwest of Detroit and includes the city of Flint, which is the county seat.