Tighter Medina tobacco ordinance includes e-cigs

Amended law intended to safeguard youth under 18

The Medina City Council, Tuesday, April 1, amended its tobacco ordinance to keep nicotine delivery products, including electronic cigarettes, out of the hands of youth under the age of 18,

The amended ordinance treats these products like tobacco and requires sellers to have a license from the city of Medina to sell them. Also, the amended law prohibits tobacco sampling within tobacco products shops.

“Nicotine delivery products are any product that contains or delivers nicotine that is not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a smoking cessation product,” said Jodi Gallup, assistant to the city administrator, in a memo to the City Council. Examples of nicotine delivery products are gums, lozenges, strips and sticks that look like, and are marketed like, gums, mints and breath strips sold at candy counters.

Smoking cessation products approved by the FDA are sold over the counter to adults age 18 or older. Examples are Nicotrol, Nicorette and Nicoderm.

“These approved products can remain on the shelves and do not fall under the new regulations,” Gallup said.

Turning to the topic of tobacco sampling, she said the amended ordinance bans tobacco sampling completely “to prohibit a hookah lounge from opening in the city of Medina.”

“The Indoor Clean Air Act allows an exception for the ban on smoking indoors for sampling (smoking) in a tobacco products shop, which has a specific definition,” she explained. “Cities are, however, able to enact stricter regulations and some ban this type of smoking.”

An issue for some cities has been businesses wanting to use this exception to the law to open hookah lounges in the back of tobacco shops and selling samples for $10 to $20 each. The challenge for most ordinances is failure to define a “sample.”

The amended ordinance makes it illegal to sell or otherwise provide any tobacco, tobacco-related device or nicotine delivery product to a minor, and it is illegal for minors to possess, smoke, chew, sniff or otherwise use any of these items. Use of false identification by a minor to obtain these products also is illegal.

A business that violates the ordinance will be subject to an administrative fine of $500 for the first violation, $750 for a second violation at the same licensed premises within 24 months and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation at the same licensed premises within 24 months. Licenses to sell tobacco, tobacco-related devices or nicotine delivery products can be suspended for up to 10 days for the first violation of the ordinance, up to 20 days for a second violation at the same licensed premises within 24 months and up to 30 days for a third or subsequent violation at the same licensed premises within 24 months. Employees also can be fined for violating the ordinance.

Penalties for minors violating the ordinance include required attendance at an appropriate education session and up to 100 hours of community service approved by the chief of police.

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