The Janesville City Council continued its conversation on a potential new Tobacco 21 policy, and the city leaders are not yet convinced it’s the right move.

The conversation started at a joint School Board and City Council meeting on Sept. 30. The Tobacco 21 ordinance would mean anyone under the age of 21 would no longer be able to purchase tobacco in Janesville, though individuals 18 to 20 may still use the product. The Janesville City Council chose to table the resolution after some discussion. The council will wait to approve a city resolution until after the School Board puts forward its own resolution.

“I prefer to wait to see what the state does, and I feel that it’s unfair to punish the retailers in the area because they (18- to 20-year-olds) will go to other places, and I’m not against it …” Mayor Mike Santo said.

“The idea that I had was that we could wait for the state to do it, or we could take control of our own destiny, so to speak. But we can take control, and I know the businesses will hurt some but, thinking of the school, this would help …,” Councilor Russ Wiebold said. “I would say that we pass a resolution, but I’m sure that’s probably not going to be the outcome …”

Councilors were split with the idea of what to do with Tobacco 21 policy with councilor Melissa Kopachek absent.

They were in mutual agreement that underage tobacco use is wrong, but there were concerns with hurting businesses by forcing 18- to 20-year-olds out of town to buy tobacco products. The council also leaned in favor of making Tobacco 21 a county policy, rather than a city policy, if the state is not taking action.

After some back and forth discussion, the council came up with no final resolution causing the discussion to be tabled for another meeting.

Tobacco 21 has been adopted in areas surrounding Janesville with Waseca, Mankato, Albert Lea and many others approving the ordinance. In 34 communities throughout Minnesota, Tobacco 21 has passed, with more than 475 cities and counties in the United States and 29 states with policies.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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