Summit County Council is looking into making it illegal for businesses to sell electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes and related products in the county’s nine townships to anyone under the age of 21.

Council members Paula Prentice and Clair Dickinson on Monday sponsored legislation that would place a higher age restriction on the sale of electronic smoking devices and tobacco products in parts of the county. Council will review the legislation and act on it at upcoming meetings.

“We’re hoping to reduce the number of young people who start the tobacco habit,” Dickinson said.

Six municipalities in Summit County — Akron, Green, Twinsburg city, Mogadore, Norton and Richfield village — have already taken similar measures. Stow is reviewing enacting an under-21 sales ban as well.

The county ordinance, if passed, would limit sales in Bath, Boston, Copley, Coventry, Northfield Center, Richfield, Sagamore Hills, Springfield and Twinsburg townships.

The county ordinance defines electronic smoking devices to include e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pens and e-hookahs. The legislation is called “Illegal Distribution of Cigarettes, Electronic Smoking Devices, Tobacco Products, or Tobacco Product Paraphernalia.”

Council members did not discuss the proposed ordinance at Monday's meeting.

Prentice and Dickinson introduced the legislation one week after Cory Kendrick, director of Summit County Public Health, asked council to ban tobacco and vaping/electronic cigarette paraphernalia/product sales to anyone under 21. The under 21 ban is part of a national program called Tobacco 21, or T21.

Summit County Public Health would enforce the ordinance in part by doing annual inspections.

Also Monday, council:

• Approved refinancing more than $2 million in debt attached to the Akron Urban League's community center off Vernon Odom Boulevard in Akron. The refinancing will also pay to renovate unused space in the center so that the Urban League can generate rental income from the facility.

The refinancing involves issuing about $2.75 million in low-interest revenue bonds through the Development Finance Authority of Summit County. The county and city of Akron will back the bonds.

• Approved appropriating nearly $10.6 million for the 2019 capital improvement plan. Council also authorized seeking bids on nearly $8.3 million in capital improvement projects for the year.

• Approved seeking bids for the West Bath Road Bridge rehabilitation project at a total cost that is not to exceed $1 million.

• Agreed to buy up to $750,000 in road salt from Cargill Inc. for the 2019 winter season.

The Urban League refinancing and capital spending measures were approved by council committees last week.

County Council will next meet in committees on Feb. 25. There will be no meeting on Feb. 18, Presidents Day.

 

Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.