WALLINGFORD — A Tuesday night vote cleared the way for Wallingford to become the fifth municipality to raise the minimum purchasing age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.
By a 6-2 vote, the Town Council passed the ordinance restricting the sale of tobacco products, with Councilors Craig Fishbein and Joseph Marrone dissenting.
Fishbein said he opposed the new local law because its findings of fact didn’t include evidence of minors acquiring tobacco products and vaporizers from people ages 18 to 21.
Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small said that not every fact discussed in ordinance committee meetings was in the findings section of the ordinance.
Marrone said that while he believes smoking isn’t good, the ordinance is “not enforceable largely” by police.
Councilor Christopher Shortell said that the Health and Police departments did not express any issues with taking on enforcement.
“I see all sorts of laws that are very, very hard to enforce, but we have them anyway,” he said, such as speed limits.
According to the ordinance, the Health department will provide retailers with signage.
Penalties would start with a written warning, and then progress to a $100 fine for the first offense and $250 for each additional offense within two years of the previous violation.
The Southington Town Council passed an ordinance earlier this month to increase the age to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. Hartford, Bridgeport and South Windsor have enacted similar sales bans since October 2018, and the Meriden City Council is slated to hold a public hearing on a tobacco sales ordinance next month.
The idea for raising the minimum age was introduced during the Town Council's regular meeting on in October 2018, when Coalition for a Better Wallingford presented information on youth vaping.