By the middle of next month, people ages 18 to 20 no longer will be able to purchase tobacco products in New Albany.

By the middle of next month, people ages 18 to 20 no longer will be able to purchase tobacco products in New Albany.

New Albany City Council on Nov. 17 voted 6-0, with Sloan Spalding absent, to ban sales of tobacco products to people younger than age 21.

The minimum age to buy tobacco products in Ohio is 18.

The New Albany legislation is similar to measures recently approved by Bexley, Grandview and Upper Arlington city councils, said Robert Crane, a clinical professor of family medicine for the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Two officials from the Turkey Hill Minit Market set to open in the city in December told City Council they had concerns about the ordinance.

Jason Ricks, regional operations manager for Turkey Hill Minit Markets, a division of the Kroger Co., said Columbus has 16 Turkey Hill stores and tobacco products account for 35 percent of their sales.

Preston Beacom, regional merchandising coordinator for Turkey Hill Minit Markets, said company officials estimate fewer than 5 percent of tobacco sales are to people younger than 21.

Ricks said Turkey Hill has a strict training program and requires all employees to card anyone who "appears under age 30."

"We take it very seriously, what our responsibility is in the community," he said.

Ricks said the company considered its sales numbers, including tobacco sales, when making the $5 million investment in a new location on U.S. Route 62 north of Smith's Mill Road.

"This is being built based on that sales data and it being a viable business," he said. "Our success really depends on those sales."

City Councilman Stephen Pleasnick said if the sales of products to 18- to 20-year-olds are less than 5 percent, the new restrictions might not have a large impact on the business.

Crane agreed, saying New Albany has shown a lower-than-average smoking rate compared to national statistics.

He said tobacco sales likely would be lower in the city than elsewhere.

Mayor Nancy Ferguson said she is grateful to Turkey Hill for locating in the city but she supported the legislation.

"It's a health issue to me," she said.

Crane asked City Council this past summer to consider the action.

He said city officials worked on the legislation with Micah Berman, a law professor at Ohio State.

The ordinance will take effect 30 days after its approval, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.