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PRCHN Faculty Deliver Testimony That Helps Lead to Age Restriction on Tobacco Sales
On December 7, 2015, the City of Cleveland passed legislation that bans the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to people under the age of 21. In the weeks preceding the vote, Council heard testimony from all sides of the issue. Among those invited by Cleveland City Council to provide data and expert testimony were PRCHN Associate Director Dr. Erika Trapl and Affiliated Faculty member Dr. Scott Frank.

Dr. Trapl’s testimony centered on tobacco use rates among Cleveland youth and data related to the location of Cleveland public school buildings and retail establishments that sell tobacco products. The PRCHN’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFSS) provided key data for their testimony. The YRBS is administered to high school (odd-numbered years) and middle school (even-numbered years) students in Cuyahoga County each year. The BRFSS is a comprehensive survey of health and risk behaviors in adults most recently conducted among City of Cleveland residents in late 2014.

Almost nine out of ten adult smokers began smoking before age 18, thus efforts to reduce youth tobacco use can have significant impact on adult smoking rates. As of 2013, approximately 25 percent of Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) high school students were current smokers, including use of cigarettes, little cigars and cigarillos, and hookah.

As part of her testimony, Dr. Trapl shared with Council a 2015 Data Brief from the PRCHN, Youth Tobacco Use and Sales Outlets in Cleveland, Ohio, which includes a map of Cleveland noting CMSD school buildings and corner stores selling tobacco. On average, each CMSD school has almost eight stores selling tobacco within a half-mile radius of the school, with an average of one store within 1,000 feet.

Council also passed a resolution calling for the city to follow the Cleveland Clinic's lead and begin hiring only non-smokers by 2017. Cleveland City Council is considering further legislation banning the sale or distribution of flavored tobacco products except in a retail tobacco store (defined as a retail establishment that derives 80 percent or more of its revenue from the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products). Dr. Trapl has been invited back to provide further data on that proposed legislation.
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