In a press release last week, the Southington Town-wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) coalition announced a unanimous vote at their Jan. 7 meeting to move forward with a proposal to raise the age to purchase any tobacco, nicotine or vaping products in Southington from 18 to 21 years old.
The group will propose the change to the town’s ordinance committee at their February meeting. If approved by the ordinance committee, the concept will then be presented to the Town Council for final approval.
In the release, STEPS officials said that they started this conversation at their Nov. 2018 advisory board meeting by discussing the positives and negatives of such an initiative. Since then, they’ve sought feedback from community stakeholders, which they reviewed prior to this recent vote.
The coalition’s goal is to have local lawmakers institute a town ordinance that will manage the sales of tobacco, nicotine and vaping products within the Southington community.
STEPS included national data with the release that claims that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use.
“As a member of Southington’s prevention coalition, I am proud to support this systemic change that will benefit our youth by reducing their ability to be in possession of harmful substances,” STEPS advisory board president Chris Palmieri said in a press release. “If approved, this ordinance will send a clear message that our community stands united in supporting healthy decisions and protecting our youth.”
The STEPS Coalition strives to keep youth healthy through education, policy change and reducing access.
In the release, STEPS officials said that the health hazards associated with the use of tobacco, nicotine and vaping product are clearly documented, and they said that the ability for Southington’s youth to purchase these products is unacceptable from both a health and physical development perspective.
Any questions can be directed to the Town of Southington’s prevention specialist, Kelly Leppard, at SouthingtonSTEPS@gmail.com or (860) 276-6285.