Tobacco sales

Photo of Akron City Council
M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU public radio

Akron’s minimum age to buy tobacco products is going up from 18 to 21. But opponents and even some supporters are expressing reservations.

After a month of debate, the final Akron City Council vote was eight in favor, three opposed and two abstentions. Among the opponents was Marilyn Keith, who questioned why the city should block what would otherwise be a legal sale to an adult.

“I believe that if I am for this legislation, I am saying that adults at 18, 19, and 20 are incompetent and cannot make this decision for themselves, so we must make it for them.”

Map of Tobacco 21 efforts
Tobacco21

Akron City Council is expected to vote tonight on whether to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to those under 21. Proponents hope the rest of the Summit County will follow Akron’s lead.  

Those pushing to increase the age from 18 to 21 include public health officials, pediatricians, the national group Tobacco21 and the head of the city’s effort to combat infant mortality. They note that 2 percent of tobacco sales are to people under age 21 -- but those sales end up producing 90 percent of new smokers.