WALLINGFORD — Wallingford may be the next town to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.
On Tuesday night, the Town Council ordinance subcommittee voted 5-2 in favor of an ordinance banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21. The subcommittee is made up of all council members. The full Town Council is expected to vote on the measure on March 26.
Councilors Craig Fishbein and Joseph Marrone voted against advancing the ordinance.
Marrone said while he doesn’t want kids to smoke or vape, he feels the town doesn’t have the ability to enforce the ordinance, and that it’s a “feel-good” move.
He added that since people are able to join the military at age 18, “that’s a good age to allow kids to decide whether it’s appropriate or not for them to smoke.”
The idea for raising the minimum age started in October 2018 when Coalition for a Better Wallingford presented information to councilors on youth vaping, including Juul products.
“There's new evidence coming out all the time that re-enforces our position on this,” said Ken Welch, Coalition for a Better Wallingford president. “Our focus is getting this stuff out of kids’ hands.”
According to the draft ordinance, approximately 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, and most people who aren’t smokers by age 21 don’t pick up the habit later in life.
In a statement Monday, Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said the company supports laws that raise the minimum purchase age to 21 for all tobacco products. The company has been accused of targeting teens with flavored pods and high nicotine content.
“No young person or non-nicotine user should ever try Juul,” he said. “We look forward to working with policymakers at the federal, state and local levels.”