KENT, Ohio (July 21, 2022) - Kent City Council voted to approve a measure that requires all stores that sell tobacco products and electronic smoking devices to apply for a retailer license. With strong retail licensure requirements, these retailers and the tobacco industry can be held accountable for violations of tobacco control laws. These requirements will allow officials from the Kent City Health Department to know where tobacco products are being sold and provide stronger oversight through regular compliance checks.

“Tobacco products are sold seemingly everywhere—grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores—making it far too easy for kids to obtain cigarettes, flavored cigars, snuff and e-cigarettes,” said Tracy Behnke, Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Northeast Ohio. “Too many youth are using tobacco products —including e-cigarettes—and tobacco companies continue to aggressively market these products to young people. We need to do more, not less, to keep these dangerous and addictive products away from kids. A strong tobacco retail licensing program reduces youth access to tobacco products by ensuring compliance and enforcement of laws that reduce youth tobacco use.”

A key part of protecting people’s health is reducing the overwhelming presence and influence of tobacco companies in Kent. Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars every year on ads and marketing in retail settings, offering price discounts and promotions on products sold in gas stations, convenience stores, and other retailers. These aggressive tactics hook kids on tobacco products and make it harder for current tobacco users to quit. Retail licensure protects kids from predatory tobacco companies.

“Research has shown that compliance is most effective when the tobacco retailer or license holder is held accountable, rather than non-management employees, who are often low-wage clerks, or the youth who purchase tobacco products,” said Valerie Weber, Community Impact Director for the American Heart Association in Northeast Ohio. “Penalties must be levied on the retailer or license holder, with penalties escalating with each violation and the final penalty of revocation of the license. Kids should not be penalized for purchase, use, or possession of harmful products that have been aggressively marketed and illegally sold to them. Strong tobacco licensure requirements shift penalties for ignoring tobacco control laws from youth to retailers.”

Fees collected from retail licensing ensure funding for compliance checks and enforcement of tobacco laws without additional costs to taxpayers.



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