SOUTHINGTON — Police and town leaders have been visiting businesses to notify them of a new minimum age for tobacco purchases.
Selling tobacco to those under 21 became illegal on April 4 following a change in town ordinances. Since then, the Southington Town-Wide Effort to Promote Success group and the Police Department held two information sessions to let owners know about the new rules and to provide them with age limit signs.
Police Lt. Stephen Elliott said officers also visited businesses that weren’t able to attend.
“The merchants were able to ask questions about the new ordinance,” he said.
Gasman on Main Street was one of the businesses visited this week, according to a clerk. Police gave them a sign to replace the hand-written note that had been near the counter informing customers that they’d no longer sell tobacco products to those under 21.
Tara Parker, an employee of Smoker’s Dream World 2 on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, said they haven’t received a visit but heard about the new ordinance.
“I’m hoping (officials) come out to us,” Parker said.
The business opened in January and sells vaping, CBD and tobacco products.
The council voted 8 to 1 in March to raise the minimum tobacco age to 21. STEPS pushed for the increase along with Tobacco 21, a national group. The town is among many in Connecticut that have passed a new age limit or are considering one.
The new ordinance also requires a permit for businesses that sell tobacco, but there’s no charge for it.
“We’re hoping that the businesses view us as community partners in this,” said Kelly Leppard, STEPS youth prevention coordinator.
Some business have been told by teens formerly able to buy tobacco that they were “grandfathered” in. Leppard said that’s not how the law works.
“It’s 21, there’s no grandfathering,” she said.
Leppard said that since Smokers Dream World 2 is new, it didn’t make the initial list but would be visited soon.
The ordinance levies fines for stores that sell tobacco to customers under 21. Repeated violations could result in the loss of a tobacco license, according to Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner.
Councilors debated how much of an effect the town law would have on preventing teens getting products that are still sold in nearby towns. Michael Riccio, a Republican councilor, was the lone vote in opposition.