Tempe City Council is working toward passing restrictions on tobacco sales by establishing tobacco sales licenses, enacting fees to ensure compliance and raising the minimum age of tobacco purchase to 21 years old.
The council released its new idea on Feb. 2 with the hope of getting citizen feedback at their two upcoming meetings. Tempe City Council also has a survey, which will open on March 20, for people to share their thoughts about the new proposals.
A month ago, Tempe was considering a ban on vape products but students and professors at the time worried it would lead students to more harmful substances.
Federal and state law prohibits the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 21. Despite this, more than 50% of Arizona high school students have reported trying vaping products according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. An ASU self-report survey showed that 12.7% of students have vaped in the past month.
At the council committee meeting on Jan. 27, Councilmembers Doreen Garlid and Joel Navarro led the approach to move forward with the tobacco sales license-focus. Both councilmembers said they were making the choice to change protocols for the young people of Arizona.
"I'm excited that we're going to be getting some input and continuing the conversation with this revised approach," Navarro said in the Tempe Press Release.
Both Garlid and Navarro championed the earlier ban in November 2022 but said that the discussions would continue into this year.
If the city council continues to pursue the proposal, Tempe would join other major cities, including Tucson and Flagstaff, in passing tobacco licensing ordinances and raising the minimum age of purchase. Garlid said the council is eager to hear from community members and this could be just the start of restrictions to keep young people from addiction.
"Our committee is dedicated to the health and safety of young Tempeans. With this proposed ordinance, we hope to keep these types of dangerous, addictive products out of the hands of youth before a long-term or lifetime addiction takes hold," Garlid said in an emailed statement.
Edited by Shane Brennan, Reagan Priest and Luke Chatham.