Action Against Underage Vaping and Tobacco

In response to the growing concern of underage vaping and tobacco use among children, the City Council of Oxford has taken decisive measures to address this pressing public health crisis. Spearheaded by City Councilwoman Chantel Raghu, the new slate of measures aims to protect the youth first and foremost. The impact of these regulations is expected to be far-reaching, safeguarding the well-being of the community's children and adolescents.

Addressing the Issue at Schools

The urgency of the situation became apparent when Talawanda High School reported the collection of 124 vapes over the past six months, with 23 of them containing marijuana. To combat this issue effectively, the Oxford Police formed a dedicated vape task force consisting of one sergeant and five officers. Working tirelessly for 108 hours over the last five weeks, they identified problem areas in schools and tracked down stores that sold disposable vapes to minors.

Grant Support for Implementation

To assist in implementing these new measures, Oxford will apply for a $60,000 grant from Interact for Health, a nonprofit public health organization. This financial backing will ensure that the initiatives can be effectively carried out, making a significant difference in curbing underage vaping and tobacco use.

New Tobacco Retail Licensing Program

The City Council introduced an ordinance for the implementation of a new tobacco retail licensing program. The main objective of this program is to limit the number of new tobacco and vape shops by mandating the acquisition of a new tobacco retail license. By regulating the density of tobacco retailers to one shop for every 1,500 people, the city aims to strike a balance between demand and control.

Current Status of Tobacco Retailers

Oxford's current landscape includes over 20 tobacco and vape stores, according to Oxford Police Lt. Geoff Robinson. However, the new program will not shut down existing retailers; instead, it will focus on enforcing the regulations for new shops that are starting up. Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene emphasized that this approach would promote responsible retail practices without penalizing established businesses.

Creating Safe Zones

To ensure the safety and well-being of students and children, the new program will create safe zones that prohibit retail shops from operating near schools and daycares. This proactive step aims to minimize the influence of these establishments on impressionable young minds and foster a healthier community environment.

Increasing Tobacco License Fee

As part of the comprehensive strategy to discourage youth access to tobacco, the City Council will raise the annual tobacco license fee from $35 to $250. This increase will not only help fund the new initiatives but also act as a deterrent to retailers who might not adhere to the regulations.

The Oxford Police Division's Vehicle Upgrade

In other news, the Oxford Police Division will be receiving a much-needed upgrade to its vehicle fleet. Five new 2023 Ford Interceptor Utility vehicles will replace older models that date back to 2007 and 2009. The department faced some challenges in securing new cars, with an order being canceled in 2022 and again in 2023. However, this upgrade will undoubtedly enhance the force's ability to address public safety concerns effectively.

Addressing Homelessness in the Community

The City Council has also taken steps to address homelessness in the community. The ordinance allowing the Ohio Association of Regular Baptist Churches to connect to city water at 525 N. Campus Avenue will facilitate the establishment of a planned 92-room hotel. This initiative aligns with Oxford Area Solutions for Housing, a community-driven effort to prevent and respond to homelessness.

Encouraging Voter Participation

In addition to these pressing matters, City Council passed a resolution encouraging residents to vote against Ohio Issue One in the upcoming special election. Issue One aims to raise the threshold for changing the state constitution from 50 percent to 60 percent. Kathie Brinkman, the communications director of the League of Women Voters of Oxford, stressed the significance of voter participation in this crucial decision. Councilman Glenn Ellerbe shared his concerns about the potential impact of this issue on Ohio's democracy. Mayor William Snavely strongly urged citizens to vote no, emphasizing the importance of exercising their right to vote.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
  1. What led the City Council of Oxford to address underage vaping and tobacco? City Councilwoman Chantel Raghu recognized the growing public health crisis and made children's well-being a top priority.

  2. What was the outcome of the Oxford Police's investigation into underage vaping? Talawanda High School reported collecting 124 vapes over six months, with 23 containing marijuana, highlighting the severity of the issue.

  3. How will Oxford implement the new tobacco retail licensing program? The City Council will restrict the density of tobacco retailers, create safe zones near schools and daycares, and raise the annual license fee.

  4. What is the purpose of the $60,000 grant from Interact for Health? The grant will assist in the effective implementation of the new measures, ensuring their success in curbing underage vaping and tobacco use.

  5. Why is the City Council encouraging residents to vote against Ohio Issue One? Issue One proposes raising the threshold for changing the state constitution, and the Council believes it could impact Ohio's democracy negatively.