On October 22, 2019, Alachua County’s Tobacco Minimum Legal Sales Age 21 Ordinance will go into effect. The ordinance raises the minimum legal sales age from 18 to 21 for tobacco and tobacco related products, including e-cigarettes and nicotine delivery devices. It requires that no person shall sell or offer to sell any of these products without first having obtained a license to do so from the County. This is in addition to any currently required state and federal licenses. The ordinance applies to all unincorporated and incorporated areas of the County.
This license will be issued and enforced through the County's Growth Management Department. More information about that license and the ordinance can be found at the Alachua County Growth Management website. The purpose of this ordinance is to prevent the distribution of tobacco products to youth and reduce the number of youths who start using tobacco products. Studies have found that increasing the tobacco age will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking, reduce smoking-caused deaths, and immediately improve the health of adolescents, young adults, and young mothers who would be deterred from smoking, as well as their children. Data show that 90% of lifelong tobacco users start before age 18 and 95% before age 21. Evidence suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes may be at greater risk of starting to smoke regular cigarettes.
Youth vaping has increased dramatically across the country and in Florida. In 2018, about 25% of Florida high school students reported current use of electronic vaping (a 58% increase compared to 2017). In Alachua County, 15.7% of high school students reported current use of electronic vaping in 2018. E-cigarettes, including JUUL, typically contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Youth may be more sensitive to nicotine and feel dependent on nicotine sooner compared to adults. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod (the “liquid” refill) contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. JUUL uses nicotine salts, which can allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation.
“This was the natural next step for Alachua County when it comes to protecting the health and safety of our young people,” said Tobacco Free Alachua Vice-Chair Victoria Hunter. “I am proud to say that Alachua County is leading the way on this in Florida. In light of the recent news of hospitalizations and even deaths associated with vaping, limiting access by teens to these dangerous and addictive products is incredibly important.”
This new policy is an opportunity for community members of all ages to begin taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle, and Tobacco Free Florida offers several free resources through the Quit Your Way program. Participants can receive support over the phone, online, or in person. Phone and web quit are available to individuals 13 and up, and all three of these methods offer two to four weeks of nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges to people 18 and older. Participants can sign up at TobaccoFreeFlorida.com. To learn more or participate in local cessation services, contact Suwannee River Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at 386-462-1551.
Tobacco Free Alachua is a diverse community partnership of concerned citizens, local non-profits, businesses, and health advocates who work to reduce the use and effects of tobacco in Alachua County. The partnership was established in 2008 and is supported by the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County. To learn more, contact Ryan McGuire at 352-334-7914 or Ryan.McGuire@flhealth.gov.
For more information on this ordinance, contact Alachua County Code Enforcement at 352-374-5243 Ext. 2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.