Upper Arlington city officials took the first step Tuesday toward becoming one of the first Ohio communities to prohibit the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to anyone younger than 21.

Upper Arlington city officials took the first step Tuesday toward becoming one of the first Ohio communities to prohibit the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to anyone younger than 21.

Upper Arlington City Council heard the first reading May 26 of a proposed ordinance to establish 21 as the minimum age for buying tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

A final vote on the legislation isn't expected until June 8. All but two council members have expressed support for the measure since Dr. Rob Crane, a clinical associate professor of family medicine at the OSU Wexner Medical Center and president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, called for the age increase during a council conference session April 6.

On Tuesday, Crane and several members of the Columbus medical community, residents and Franklin County Public Health Medical Director Miller Sullivan called for the age increase.

"We strongly support these types of things," Sullivan said. "We know the decrease in smoking in this age group will help saves lives."

Upper Arlington City Councilman Erik Yassenoff said May 22 he still hadn't decided how he'll vote on the proposal, and said he preferred central Ohio communities to have uniformity in their laws involving sales of tobacco and nicotine.

Council Vice President Debbie Johnson questioned the timing of the proposal Tuesday and raised concerns about how it would affect local businesses.

"I also think this puts some of our businesses at a disadvantage because (shoppers) can go right across Kenny Road," Johnson said. "I also worry about enforcement and question how our police officers will enforce that."

Councilman Kip Greenhill, who championed getting the ordinance to council, responded by citing an American Journal of Health report that said increasing the minimum age for tobacco and nicotine sales would only reduce sales of those products by 2 percent.

"The economic impact - I hope we don't get hung up on that because the impact will be minimal and we're talking about a lethal product," he said.

Crane also said there have been no lawsuits as a result of 72 other U.S. communities raising the minimum sales age.

Under the proposal introduced to council, selling cigarettes, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine would be prohibited to anyone 21 or younger.

Anyone found to have violated the law would face a maximum fine of $150 for a first offense within 12 months, a maximum fine of $250 for a second offense within a year and a maximum fine of $500 for a third and subsequent offenses within a 12-month period.

By making the offense an "unclassified misdemeanor," the fine amounts could increase without the potential of jail time, City Attorney Jeanine Hummer said, a proposal that was supported unanimously last week by the Upper Arlington Board of Health.