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Tobacco 21 now law in Genesee County, but lawsuit halts enforcement

A new law in Genesee County, Tobacco 21, means anyone under the age of 21 can't buy cigarettes. It also means no store can sell them to anyone under 21. (Photo Credit: Mike Japowicz)

A new law in Genesee County, Tobacco 21, means anyone under the age of 21 can't buy cigarettes. It also means no store can sell them to anyone under 21.

It took effect Monday. But right now, if you don't follow it nothing with happen.

"The regulation stands but will not be enforced at this time," said Mark Valacak, Genesee County Health Officer.

Since a lawsuit is being brought by a local oil company the county has decided not to enforce its new regulation until after a judge makes a ruling. Still Valacak feels this is an vital step in protecting public health.

"We know this is an important strategy in preventing teens from getting hooked on what is an addictive drug, nicotine," said Valacak.

Despite the halt in enforcement you can expect to see new signs posted in any place that sells tobacco products in Genesee County.

As the law stands, there are fines starting at $50 for those who sell tobacco products to someone under 21. For those who repeatedly do it the consequences can be much worse.

"The ultimate outcome could be the suspension of their license to sell tobacco products in Genesee County," said Valacak.

The company filing the lawsuit, RPF Oil Company, is based out of Grand Blanc Township.

An attorney for RPF Oil Company says the reason they filed this suit is because the local law now conflicts with state law.

The case is expected to be taken up in court next month.

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