by Jordan Evans
The start of 2016 brought a new law to the county of Santa Clara declaring that the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco products be increased from 18 to 21 years old. All tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigs, are encompassed in this ordinance. The county Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the law in June 2015, but it implemented the decree on Jan. 1, 2016.
Advocates explained that 95% of smokers begin the habit before age 21, and 90% of tobacco users start before they turn 19. Further analysis shows teenagers are more likely to socialize with 18-year-olds than 21-year-olds, helping the younger population avoid those who can buy tobacco and nicotine for them.
This new law affects 17 unincorporated stores in the 15 towns that make up Santa Clara County. Unincorporated stores are those are do not belong to chain or larger company; therefore, this law does not affect businesses like 7-Eleven and Walgreens because they are incorporated.
This is the first county in the state of California to raise the tobacco age limit to 21; however, 115 governmental systems in America, including the cities of Boston, Cleveland, and New York City and the state of Hawaii, have taken comparable measures as well.
Ken Yeager, the board member who proposed the ordinance in May of last year, stated that “Our county continues to be a national leader in protecting the health of our residents, particularly our children and youth, from the harms of tobacco.”
Stores who do not cooperate with this law will face a 100 dollar fine for the first infraction, 200 dollars for the second during the same year, and 500 dollars for following ones. The store may also have its retailer’s permit temporarily withdrawn for a maximum of 30 days for the first infraction, 90 days for the second, and one year for following ones if they all happen within 24 months of each other.
(Sources: San Jose Mercury News, KTVU News)