Guest Blogger: Victoria Hunter Gibney, MPH, CPH, Chair, Tobacco Free Alachua
In Alachua County, the local tobacco prevention coalition, Tobacco Free Alachua (TFA), is advocating for the county to protect young people from the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine dependence through a Local Tobacco Retail License. The proposed ordinance would create a local license, raise the legal sales age of tobacco products including e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, establish a 1,000-foot buffer around schools where tobacco cannot be sold, and close the e-cigarette loophole, which currently allows standalone e-cigarette retailers to sell vaping products without a tobacco license.
hero_image_alt_text===teenage boy saying no to a cigarette
thumbnail_alt_text===Tobacco Free Alachua logo
Local advocacy efforts around this issue began in spring 2017 and have gained momentum since then. TFA volunteers have met with county commissioners as well as city commissioners in municipalities within Alachua County to discuss the rising epidemic of vaping and the evidence behind Tobacco 21. Three cities, Gainesville, Waldo, and High Springs, have sent letters in support of a local tobacco retail license to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). We are grateful for the support of the American Heart Association, along with March of Dimes, the national Tobacco21 campaign, Alachua County Health Care Advisory Board, Alachua County Oral Health Coalition, and more. Alachua County has the opportunity to join the nearly 400 municipalities across the country who have passed Tobacco 21 policies.
On October 23, 2018 the Alachua BoCC voted unanimously to move forward with a first reading of the ordinance, with vocal support from TFA members. The first reading is expected to take place in late January. We will need volunteers to turn out and show their support! As an advocate for the American Heart Association, stay tuned for You're the Cure alerts after the new year.
If you live in Alachua County, I invite you to stay updated on TFA’s advocacy efforts and learn how to get involved by following us on Facebook or ask to join our listserv by emailing TobaccoFreeAlachua@flhealth.gov.