By: Saraana Jamraj
Soon, teenagers will no longer be able to buy nicotine or vaping products in Tamarac after the first reading of an ordinance unanimously passed.
This would prohibit the sale and distribution of electronic nicotine dispensing devices and nicotine products to people under the age of 21, require signs notifying customers, and include fines up to $500 per day for violations.
Community Development Director Maxine Calloway presented findings to the city commission at the November 12 workshop about teenage smoking— which sought to justify the ordinance by curbing usage.
“There is data that shows that 95 percent of adults who smoke began smoking before they turned 21 years old,” said Calloway.
The timeframe between the ages of 18 and 21 is a critical period in which many adults move from experimental smoking to regular, daily usage, she said. Also used to justify the need for an ordinance were the 52 incidents of vaping related pulmonary illnesses in Florida.
City Commissioner Julie Fishman announced her full support for the ordinance and shared her struggles with teenage smoking.
“I started smoking at the age of 12, and it took me 20 years to kick that habit,” said Fishman, who added that passing the ordinance would be the right move to help young people in the community who need the adults in the room to make wise decisions.
According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, from 2011 to 2018, cigarette smoking declined among middle and high school students with nearly one of every 40 middle school students — or 2.3 percent reporting in 2019 that they smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days. However, the use of e-cigarettes went up among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2019, with one out of every ten middle school students that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days.
The ordinance will affect the 42 retail merchant businesses in the city who sell nicotine products. However, five of those businesses are Walgreens locations, which already enforce their own age limit restriction.
At the November 13 commission meeting, the temporary ordinance passed on the first reading unanimously without any objections during public participation and is expected to pass on second reading.
After it passes, the ordinance will go into effect, and businesses will have six months to comply before fines begin.
- Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her master's degree in mass communications at Florida International University.
She's currently the communications manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.