no-smoking

The vote by Evanston aldermen this week to raise the age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21 is getting some national attention.

The Wall Street Journal is out with a lengthy story suggesting the vote here may start a trend in other communities that could have an adverse impact on tobacco company’s profits, as is at least one other business news site.

Aldermen here signaled two weeks ago with a unanimous vote to introduce the higher age limit that the measure was on the road to approval — and this week it was adopted without debate on the council’s consent agenda.

The only change aldermen made in the measure from the version recommended by the city’s Human Services Committee was to not criminalize possession of cigarettes by persons between 18 and 20 years of age.

The measure had the backing of the city’s Health Action Council, an advisory group to the Health Department.

Anti-tobacco advocates cited a major drop in cigarette use by teens in Needham, Mass., after it became the first city to raise the tobacco age in 2005, and argued that teens and young adults are much more likely to become addicted to cigarettes than people who start smoking at older ages.

So far about 30 communities in Massachusetts and New York City have adopted such restrictions.

Next month the idea is up for debate in Columbia, Mo., home to the University of Missouri, and a state-wide ban is under consideration in New Jersey.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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