As of October 17, 2019 the Tobacco 21 law made it illegal to give, sell, or otherwise distribute cigarettes, other tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products like e-cigarette/vaping products to any person under the age of 21 in Ohio. In 2018, Kent City Health Department advocated for and helped pass a Tobacco 21 policy in Kent before it was a state-wide policy.
The process for this involved conducting surveys with community and stakeholders, hosting an open discussion event with the affected tobacco retailers, gathering letters of support from several organizations, and lobbying the city's decision-makers using research and data of other successful Tobacco 21 policies around the country. Many other cities and counties in the state of Ohio have referred to Kent City Health Department in the hopes of instituting Tobacco 21 in their own community.
Following the passing of Tobacco 21 and with assistance from the Academic Health Department program, Kent City Health Department embarked on a series of goals in fall 2018. In the fall, using the knowledge gained from studying tobacco policy, the health department reached out to local businesses and multi-unit housing complexes to assist in their efforts to reduce the use of tobacco products and protect against secondhand smoke. Housing complexes who would normally not show interest in such policies, agreed to work with the health department. Local food operators, both established and new to the city, demonstrated concern and curiosity about tobacco cessation for not only their employees but for their guests too. Successful partnerships require both sides to work together, and the health department has been able to do just that.
In an effort to assist those who come to the health department to quit smoking, information regarding cessation services was needed. The health department conducted additional survey work to better understand what organizations and businesses offered tobacco cessation services to the public. The survey work required weeks of follow-up calls, meetings, and in some instances completing the entire survey over the phone or in person. The end result was a tobacco cessation resource guide for the public and a list of additional health services who would like to be referrals or providers of tobacco cessation interventions.
Perhaps the most important successes of 2018 are the partnerships established. Whether it is the community, local businesses, or other stakeholders of health in the City of Kent and Portage County, the ability to work with others easily has become an invaluable resource.