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New Law Implements Youth Vaping, Tobacco Penalties

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People under age 21 will face consequences for using, buying, and possessing tobacco and vaping supplies in Hilliard soon as a result of legislation passed Monday night by City Council.

The new law (which takes effect Aug. 10) also means underage individuals will have opportunities for treatment and education via a youth diversion program that focuses on a variety of offenses, including tobacco and vaping. The diversion program would be for youths ages 9 through 17 and, for tobacco and vaping offenses, for ages 20 and under.

Information about vaping | Talk to your teens | E-cigarette facts | The vaping epidemic

The ordinance stiffens already existing state laws. There are four key elements to the Hilliard legislation:

  • Imposing a penalty for using, buying, or possessing tobacco and vaping supplies by anyone under age 21. State laws already address penalties for selling or furnishing such items to those under 21.
  • Making it a first-degree misdemeanor to falsify information – such as using a fake ID – to obtain tobacco and electronic smoking devices.
  • Banning all e-smoking devices and their component parts, including those used for vaping substances other than nicotine, for individuals under age 21.
  • Exceptions required by state law are included for individuals in a medical marijuana program or working in a marijuana dispensary. There are no such dispensaries in Hilliard.

“This ordinance is geared toward protecting young people in our community from the significant health and safety risks associated with youth vaping and tobacco use,” said Dawn Steele, City staff attorney and prosecutor. “We know that vaping and tobacco use are significant health threats, and that lifetime habits like smoking often begin in the teenage years. By addressing this now through education and enforcement, we hope to reduce the health issues today’s children will face such as problems in brain development, heart disease and lung disease today and later in their lives.”

Steele said many of the charges resulting from this new ordinance will likely come from the City of Hilliard Division of Police’s school resources officers.

“We worked closely with Hilliard City Schools in developing an approach that is tougher than state law. We also are creating a youth diversion program to help treat those found guilty of breaking this law. That program will focus on educating youths and parents about the health risks of these products.” 

Steele said that as part of this effort the schools and City will work to communicate the dangers of these substances.

“The goal is not to be punitive, but to inform our community. While the dangers of tobacco use are well known, there is a perception among many that vaping only create harmless vapor,” Steele said. “The reality is research is showing the health effects of vaping are often worse than with traditional cigarettes. We plan to offer education to parents and youths caught with these devises, as well as nicotine cessation and other needed treatment.”

Steele said there should be minimal costs to the City for the new program. It will be coordinated by the City’s existing Recovery Court Coordinator and will have access to resources and staffing currently in place with the Franklin County Juvenile Court Police Initiated Diversion program. Hilliard City Schools also is eligible for parent and student substance abuse education grants through the Franklin County Educational Service Center.

The City also will charge participants of the diversion program $100 to cover new costs.

While the Recovery Court already allows for diversion options, it will be included as an option for vaping and tobacco violators when the law takes effect Aug. 10.

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