News and Events

Cedar Key Passes Tobacco Product Placement Ordinance
August 19, 2014

For the first time since 2002, another city in Levy County is moving tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, behind the sales counters.

The City of Cedar Key has always been very supportive of promoting healthy lifestyles and preserving the environment. The city council had passed a resolution in 2012 concerning the sale of flavored tobacco products because they impact teen tobacco use rates, so it is no surprise that the city council recently took action to further protect children in their community from tobacco industry influence.  

Following a presentation to the Cedar Key Lions Club, the Mayor of Cedar Key invited members of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) to present to the city council on how the tobacco industry targets teens.

Emily Manis at Cedar Key City Council
Emily Manis presents before the City Council of Cedar Key.

SWAT member Emily Manis, a sophomore from Williston, presented information to the council members that included pictures of tobacco product displays on counter-tops and facts about how the industry targets teens, especially at retail outlets through advertising and product placement. She explained to the council that two out of three youth visit a convenience store at least once a week and studies show that youth are much more likely than adults to be influenced by tobacco promotions in convenience stores. She used the phrase “eye level is buy level” from tobacco industry documents, which note that tobacco products need to be placed where they will be seen. In her opinion, eye level for kids is counter-top height, which is exactly where these colorful tobacco displays are often placed.

The City of Cedar Key unanimously voted to draft a tobacco product placement ordinance specific to their city after receiving the information about how the tobacco industry targets youth at the point of sale. The tobacco product placement ordinance requires that all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, be placed behind the sales counter where the retailer must assist with the transaction. This reduces the visibility of the tobacco products for youth and helps ensure that products are not being stolen off of displays by minors.

In 2001, the Levy Board of County Commissioners passed a similar tobacco product placement ordinance that is enforceable in the county, but not in each municipality. Thus, each municipality must choose to pass their own ordinance to allow the local law enforcement authority to enforce the tobacco placement rules.

In 2002, the City of Williston decided to pass a product placement ordinance and Cedar Key is the first city since then to pass one. Additionally, electronic cigarettes entered the market in 2007, and thus are not included in the county or City of Williston’s product placement ordinances, however they are included in the Cedar Key ordinance. This is especially important because teen use of electronic cigarettes in Florida has doubled from 6 percent in 2011 to 12.1 percent in 2013.

At the first reading of the Cedar Key ordinance, there was some discussion about a letter which was written to the council members from a local tobacco retailer. He was concerned about the passage of the ordinance and felt strongly that the council members should not pass it as it may impact his business.

Dr. Barry Hummel at Cedar Key City Council
Dr. Barry Hummel makes his case at the Cedar Key City Council.

After a compelling presentation about teens and tobacco from Dr. Barry Hummel, a pediatrician and Director of the Tobacco Prevention Network of Florida, the council members voted to advertise the ordinance as written with a follow up 2nd reading for the formal vote to pass the law. On August 19, 2014, the Cedar Key City Council voted unanimously to adopt the tobacco product placement ordinance with little discussion.

Levy SWAT member Emily Manis, a sophomore from Williston, is really excited that another city has taken as step to protect their kids from the tobacco industry, but she always dreams for more. “I’m really happy that Cedar Key cares so much about kids,” says Emily, “they should focus on making their park and playground areas tobacco free next.” Indeed, the city council members do care about creating a safe and influence-free environment for their citizens, including even the smallest ones. During the first reading of the product placement ordinance, Cedar Key City Council member Sue Colson hinted that she too, dreams of a tobacco free city park one day.

For more information on tobacco prevention issues in Levy County, contact Kristina Zachry at kzachry@quitdoc.com.