Letter: Kent’s tobacco license law will keep our kids healthy

Editor’s note: On July 20, Kent City Council passed a law requiring retailers to obtain a license to sell tobacco products. Read the story here.

Tobacco use among youth is a growing epidemic.

Our youth today are the target of tobacco marketing at a young age. The tobacco products marketed to them have moved beyond cigarettes and morphed into an assortment of e-cigarettes and vapes in flavors appealing to kids. Tobacco companies spend billions each year marketing dangerous and addictive products.

Throughout the country, we see that existing regulations fall short for several reasons. They don’t do enough to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products to kids or to reduce tobacco-related health disparities and tobacco related illnesses.

We find that across the country passage of a retail license ordinance is a proven way to keep kids from starting to use tobacco products. Preventing kids from becoming addicted to nicotine is imperative when seeking to improve health outcomes and reduce tobacco related illnesses. Studies show that youth and young adults who live in communities with strong tobacco retail licensing ordinances have lower rates of cigarette and e-cigarette use compared to those who live in jurisdictions with less restrictive policies.

With strong retail licensure requirements, tobacco retailers and the tobacco industry can be held accountable for violations of tobacco control laws. These requirements will allow officials from the Kent City Health Department to know where tobacco products are being sold and provide stronger oversight through regular compliance checks. Fees collected from retail licensing ensure funding for compliance checks and enforcement of tobacco laws without additional costs to taxpayers. 

We applaud the Kent City Council for this effort and believe that a tobacco retail license is among the most effective tools to prevent and reduce tobacco use among both youth and adults.

Sandra Reid, Board Chair of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Heart Association

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