Enforcement of new tobacco sale age ordinance nears; municipalities weighing options

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ALACHUA CO., Fla., (WCJB) --- Alachua County will soon become one of the first counties in the state to enforce a tobacco ordinance that will raise the age from 18 to 21 for all sales.

In less than two weeks Alachua County will be enforcing its new tobacco sales ordinance, which will raise the sale age from 18 to 21.

Vendors will have to apply for a one year license to sell tobacco products and won't be able to sell them within a thousand feet of a public school.

As enforcement nears, elected officials in Newberry preparing to weigh their options.

"We feel like its worth protecting people and worth getting people a better shot at leading a healthy life," said Mark Sexton, Alachua County's spokesperson.

Earlier this year Alachua County commissioners unanimously passed a county-wide ordinance that will raise the age of tobacco sales to 21.

And now elected officials in Newberry are preparing to consider if they're going to opt out and if not, decisions on how they'll implement the ordinance will soon be addressed.

"Every single commissioner and myself, we prioritize our children's health and our children safety. We're all concerned about that but we also have a responsibility to protect personal liberty and we also have the responsibility to honor the principle of home rule," said Jordan Marlowe, Newberry Mayor.

One Newberry commissioner says the choice to use tobacco should be a personal one.

"I think that everybody understands that tobacco is bad for you and the ability for a person to make that decision should be left up to them," said Tim Marden, Newberry commissioner.

"You know its difficult because yes you're an adult at 18 in so many ways and we also know that that's one of the most susceptible times for things like becoming alcoholic or becoming a smoker," said Sexton.

The tobacco sales ordinance goes into effect October 22nd and at this upcoming Monday's meeting, commissioners will be discussing their options.

"One of the things that we feel like the county has failed to consider here is that we're about 2 miles from the county line so if I'm a business in Newberry that sells tobaccos products the residents and customers that I sell too can easily go to a 5 minute drive and continue to purchase the same items," said Jordan Marlowe, Newberry Mayor.

Sexton also told TV20 that commissioners will continue to do what they can within state law to try to prevent people from getting addictive substances.