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Commissioners set hearings on proposed under 21 tobacco ban

Stevens County is considering a ban on selling tobacco products to persons under 21. File photo/Steverns County Times1 / 2
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners set public hearing dates for June 18 and July 2 on a proposed ordinance to ban tobacco sales to persons under 21. File photo/Stevens County Times2 / 2

The public will get a chance to weigh in a proposed ordinance to ban tobacco sales to persons under 21 in Stevens County at hearings set for June 18 and July 2.

The Stevens County Board of Commissioners set the hearings during the May 7 meeting.

If the county board passes the proposed ordinance it would be effective Aug.1. The ban includes all tobacco products and ecigarettes, officials said.

About 30 counties in the state have already passed such an ordinance, said Amy Reineke of Horizon Public Health.

Pope County passed an under 21 ban in December.

Kelsey Peterson of Horizon Public Health said if the county passes an under 21 ban, the agency will educate tobacco sellers on the new ordinance. The county already has compliance checks to make sure tobacco sellers are not selling to persons under 18 but an under 21 ban will require additional education, Peterson and Reineke said.

"We don't want people to fail (compliance checks)," Reineke said.

The agency will also inform tobacco sellers about available online training.

County attorney Aaron Jordan said he wanted the ordinance to make any violation a petty misdemeanor instead of a misdemeanor, which is a more severe charge. A petty misdemeanor would allow a citation to be issued which is more user friendly for the county, Jordan said.

Commissioners made few comments about the proposed ordinance but one did.

"I'm all for 21 and under not getting cigarettes," said commissioner Donny Wohlers, who owns Old No. 1. But Wohlers said he is annoyed with the inconsistency in ages of what individuals are allowed to do such as, what is allowed for an 18-year-old and what's not allowed.