At this week's meeting, the Board unanimously approved an ordinance making it more difficult for youth in Martin County to purchase tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery devices by bringing local law into compliance with the federal purchase age of 21. The ordinance also establishes a tobacco distribution license for retailers and associated fines and penalties for establishments that sell tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age.
A portion of the fees will support future tobacco prevention programs in the county. "This is a win-win for youth in our community," said Board Chair Stacey Hetherington. "Making it more difficult to purchase tobacco products combined with education about the dangers of tobacco sets up our youth for success," she continued.
According to recent statistics provided by the Florida Department of Health in Martin County, the percentage of youth ages 11 -17 who currently use cigarettes has declined from 4.4% in 2014 to 1.4% in 2020. However, the number of youth who currently use electronic vaping has increased from 6.4% in 2014 to 16.3% in 2020. In addition, the percentage of youth exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke has increased from 34.9% in 2014 to 49.9% in 2020.
Board Chair Stacey Hetherington said, "We cannot stand aside and allow our youth to suffer the harmful effects and lasting impacts of tobacco use. I'm proud that our actions will create a way to financially assist with tobacco use prevention programs to reduce the number of youth who use tobacco products."
To read the ordinance in its entirety, visit www.martin.fl.us/resources/draft-revised-tobacco-21-ordinance. Residents are encouraged to visit www.martin.fl.us, Martin County's online resource for services, news and information, and connect with us on social media. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.