Worthington has joined a growing number of central Ohio communities in banning the sale of tobacco to people under 21 years old.

On May 21, Worthington City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would raise the minimum age to 21 for retailers to sell tobacco and tobacco-related products.

Council President Bonnie Michael said the change received no opposition from the community.

"I have not heard one negative comment," she said.

According to the ordinance, the new law will take effect July 1, but no citations or fines could be imposed until Oct. 1.

“I think this is going to be a really life-changing program for everyone who lives and works in Worthington and all the kids who go to school here,” councilwoman Rachael Dorothy said.

Worthington’s version of the "Tobacco 21" law mirrors that of Columbus and would be implemented by Columbus Public Health.

The city has an annual contract with Columbus Public Health, which provides a variety of services for Worthington. The deal was renewed in 2018 at a cost of $63,000 to Worthington.

Because of that relationship, Columbus Public Health would implement the local Tobacco 21 law with a licensing approach rather than criminalizing the use of tobacco for those under 21.

Tobacco retailers in Worthington would need to apply for a license through the health agency to sell tobacco and would be required to post signs indicating the new minimum age for purchasing tobacco.

If violations are found, Columbus Public Health officials would have the ability to issue fines or revoke the license, if enough violations were reported.

Councilwoman Beth Kowalczyk said the legislation is a “great step” for the city.”

“This is really important to me because I lost a parent to lung cancer,” she said. “I’m proud to support this and have it pass at City Council.”

Worthington joins Bexley, Columbus, Dublin, Grandview Heights, New Albany, Powell and Upper Arlington as communities with a tobacco minimum age of 21. Westerville is considering a similar change.

Tobacco 21 is a national campaign to raise the minimum age for tobacco and nicotine sales to 21.

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