Decision made on Genesee County’s tobacco ordinance

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) - UPDATE: (05/16/17) - There has been a decision on Genesee County's Tobacco 21 law.

The Board of Commissioners did not vote to rescind the regulation, but instead agreed to delay the enforcement of it until a judge hears the case.

The regulation prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

The lawsuit filed Friday by RPF oil company says the county is in violation of the state's age of majority act, which says anyone 18 years old has to be treated the same as those who are 21.

A hearing is scheduled for May 22 in the Seventh Circuit Court.


(05/15/17) - A major lawsuit has been filed against Genesee County over its ordinance banning the sale of tobacco to those under 21.

This ordinance passed Feb. 14 and technically is supposed to begin Monday.

The lawsuit was filed May 12 by RPF oil company, which owns many gas stations and convenient stores that sell tobacco products in Genesee County.

According to the lawsuit, the ordinance is in violation of the age of majority act, which states that those that are of 18 years of age are treated the same as those that are 21.

Supporters of the ordinance say it will help keep people from starting smoking and will promote younger people to lead healthier lifestyles.

On the flip side, there are concerns over how it will be enforced and the legality behind it.

The commissioners in a 7-2 vote Monday morning met in closed session with representatives from RPF.

"We're dealing with following the law in the state of Michigan and not needlessly pitting the citizens of Genesee County against the state of Michigan in an unwinnable lawsuit, which our own corporation counsel agrees is indefensible in a court of law,” said Drew Shapiro, District 6 county commissioner.

“This is the first challenge in the entire nation of a tobacco 21 ordinance and it's important to hear the cases out in court and we believe strongly that the attorney general opinion is flawed and while it does command a certain level of respect, we believe that it is not correct and that this regulation will be upheld,” said Dave Hodgkins, gov. relations director for the American Heart Association.

As to the ordinance itself, according to an email from the county's chief assistant prosecuting attorney, "With the Board Chair's permission, we have entered a stipulation agreeing to hold off enforcement of the regulation pending a hearing on the motion for a TRO/preliminary injunction, which is scheduled for May 22.

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