The city of Powell has joined a growing number of central Ohio communities that have increased the age limit to purchase tobacco.

Powell City Council on June 20 voted unanimously to bar city businesses from selling tobacco products to customers younger than 21.

David Hejmanowski, Delaware County's juvenile and probate court judge, spoke in favor of the change before council. While children younger than 18 already were prohibited from buying tobacco, Hejmanowski said, the new law could help make sure teens don't get their hands on cigarettes and related products.

"It tends to be their 18-year-old friends who are purchasing these products for them," he said.

Linda Diamond, an organizer with the American Lung Association, said Powell joins 235 cities and counties across the United States that have raised the age limit to buy tobacco to 21.

She said similar statewide restrictions exist in California and Hawaii.

Powell joins central Ohio cities such as Bexley, Columbus and New Albany in raising the age limit.

Powell Mayor Brian Lorenz said he supported the change, while noting a few business owners he had talked to expressed concerns about the legislation.

"I, like many of us out there, believe in a healthy community, and sometimes you have to consider these opportunities and do the right thing," he said.

Vice Mayor Jon Bennehoof reiterated his concerns about young members of the military not being able to buy tobacco within city limits before voting for the change. He previously noted members of the military younger than 21 still could travel to stores in surrounding Liberty Township to buy tobacco after the legislation took effect.

The legislation does not prevent parents or spouses of people younger than 21 from giving them tobacco products. It also does not prohibit people under the new age limit from possessing tobacco within city limits.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick