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Cigarettes may soon be off limits in Fort Lauderdale to anyone under 21

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 8/21/2019 By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel

Fort Lauderdale is preparing to snuff out sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to anyone younger than 21.

City commissioners moved forward Tuesday night with a new law raising the age for legal tobacco sales from 18 to 21. The new restriction is aimed at those who sell tobacco, setting up potential fines for violators. Even doling them out for free to anyone younger than 21 would be illegal, if the law passes at a final hearing in two weeks.

Alachua County in January became the first community in Florida to pass a “Tobacco 21” law. Fort Lauderdale would be the second, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.

Nationwide, at least 475 cities and 18 states raised the age to 21, the same threshold for buying beer or liquor.

Fort Lauderdale is just one of 31 cities in Broward County, so young smokers still would be free to buy their smokes somewhere else. But proponents of the law say momentum builds when cities pass the higher age limit, sometimes culminating in a statewide law.

if the law passes, enforcement would begin six weeks later, a city memo says.

City documents supporting the law said tobacco use “has devastating health and economic consequences” and is the “foremost preventable cause of premature death in America.”

Tobacco Free Partnership of Broward County endorsed the law in a mass email, saying it would “help keep these products out of schools and reduce the chance that a young adult will be able to purchase the products for underage friends.”

All stores selling cigarettes would be required to post a sign alerting the public that sales are restricted to those 21 or older. Vending machines would no longer be allowed in city limits, unless access were restricted to those of age.

The ban applies to e-cigarettes, e-pipes, vapor products, or hookahs, as well as traditional cigarettes. It also applies to tobacco products like rolling papers, filters, pens, pipes and tobacco cartridges.

The first time the law is violated, a warning would be given. The second offense is a $500 civil citation. The third or more offenses draw $1,000 fines each day.

In other action, Fort Lauderdale commissioners:

CONVENTION CENTER: Gave the first of two votes to change development plans for the Broward County Convention Center, which is proposed for expansion. The new permitted development: hotel rooms reduced from 1,000 to 800, retail reduced from 470,000 square feet to 15,000, office space added at 24,000 square feet, and convention center space increased from 550,000 square feet to 1.2 million.

BURIAL: Waived the $1,796 burial fee for Noah Sneed, a two-year-old who died July 29 when he was left in a hot van at an Oakland Park daycare. Sneed was buried in Fort Lauderdale’s Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

GUNS: Expressed support for a law prohibiting the carrying of guns in city parks and properties. Commissioner Heather Moraitis said she probably won’t support it; she said if criminals know where people are unarmed, they might consider it a target.

AUDITOR: Gave City Auditor John Herbst a 3 percent raise on his $239,000 salary. He has been auditor for 13 years. He makes more than the city manager ($225,000) and the city attorney ($214,000) and the city clerk ($126,000).

Brittany Wallman can be reached at bwallman@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4541. Follow her coverage on Twitter @BrittanyWallman

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©2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

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