Torrington considering raising age to purchase tobacco products to 21
TORRINGTON — A group of high school students who see first hand the growing use of vaping products among their peers recently asked the Torrington City Council to adopt an ordinance to prohibit sale of vaping, e-cigarette and other products that contain tobacco or nicotine to anyone under 21.
The students, who are members of the Mayor’s Committee on Youth, along with Andrew Lyon, the McCall Center for Behavior Health’s Prevention Facilitator, told the council about the health danger vaping poses to adolescents.
Now, the council’s Ordinance Committee has drafted a proposal in response to the student’s request.
Committee Chairman Gregg Cogswell said Tuesday that he and other members researched state and municipal regulations and found that both Hartford and New Haven were considering similar measures. Milford’s Board of Aldermen voted unanimously April 1 to raise the age for buying tobacco products in Milford from 18 to 21.
“There are two bills in the state legislature. I hope they pass and it becomes a statewide ordinance. That would make it uniform,” Cogswell said.
In the meantime, the Torrington’s draft proposal will be the subject of a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. April 15 at Torrington City Hall.
“We’ll get some feedback from the public. If no language change is needed, (the ordinance) could be approved by mid-May,” Cogswell said.
“We’re open to feedback,” he added.
The six-section proposed ordinance states that “tobacco product also means electronic smoking devices, including any device that can be used to deliver aerosolized or vaporized nicotine...”
The ordinance would require retailers that sell tobacco products to install a sign that states “The Sale of Tobacco or Nicotine Products or Devices to Persons Under 21 is Prohibited.”
A retailer who violates any of the provisions of the ordinance, the proposal notes, “shall be subject to a fine of of no less than $250 for each infraction.”
The bills being considered by state lawmakers, according to the CT Mirror, are stricter than Torrington’s proposal in that the legislation would ban all flavored vapor products and add a tax on vapor delivery systems and related goods.
At a recent Northwest Hills Council of Governments meeting, municipal leaders also heard about the harmful effects of vaping on adolescents. The presentation was also provided by Lyon and his colleagues from the McCall Center.
Information on usage by teenagers shows that flavors such as bubblegum, candy cane and popcorn “target adolescents and younger populations,” the presentation noted.
The center’s information also showed that marketing “saturates youth driven platforms,” such as Instagram feeds, SnapChat and YouTube channels.
While the ordinance committee’s proposal includes the ability to assess fines, Cogswell said it “has nothing to do with possession” of vaping or nicotine products. “The city is not allowed to pass regulations,” that would lead to criminal charges,” he added.
“The state may go with possession,” laws, he said.
“This was a good opportunity for research on this. We can revisit portions” of the draft ordinance after the public hearing, Cogswell said.