Sitka, Alaska Raises Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

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The Tobacco 21 movement has found its first supporter in Alaska, as the Sitka City Assembly recently passed the second reading of an ordinance that will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and tobacco alternative products from 18 to 21-years-old.

Prior to the ordinance’s passage, the council voted to move the implementation date from Oct. 1 to Aug. 22 so that the increase aligns with the start of the school year. Many supporters of increases such as these cite that persons under 18-years-old often get tobacco products from those just over 18, so passing pushing up the effective date would create more of a gap between students and those who can purchase tobacco products. That amendment passed by a 4-3 vote.

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The proposal did not sail through the assembly’s meeting, however, with the seven-member group an hour in debate of the proposal, questioning everything from enforcement to the ethics of telling adults that they are not allowed to purchase an otherwise legal product. Even with all the debate and concerns, the assembly passed the amended increase by a 6-1 vote.

Retailers or anyone who distributes tobacco to a person under 21-years-old in violation of the ordinance will face a fine of $300 for a first time offense, $600 for a second violation, while any subsequent violations come with a $1,000 fine.

Sitka is home to just under 9,000 residents.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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