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Raising The Smoking Age To 21: Both Kansas Cities Pass Ordinances – Who’s Next?

City officials in Kansas City, Missouri, have spoken: in an 11 to one vote, they elected to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 under a new ordinance. According to news station KSHB, young smokers in the area will now have to travel a little further to purchase nicotine products, tobacco products, and rolling papers. The ordinance includes the purchase of e-vapors and vapor products.

“The reason we think it’s important is because, by the very simple action of changing the ordinance, it will have the dramatic effect of keeping cigarettes out of the hands of our youngest citizens. I’m not just talking about folks who are 18,” said Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President Jim Heeter.

Following suit, Kansas City, Kansas, passed a similar ordinance, also raising the smoking age from 18 to 21. Neither ordinance raises the legal smoking age, but they do raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and smoking related products.

The move to raise the smoking age has now caught on in nine cities and towns throughout the United States; some raising the minimum age to 19 and others to 21. The movement appears to be backed by scientific data that indicates raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco could save lives. According to the CDC, 95 percent of habitual smokers began smoking before the age of 21.

Not everyone is happy with the recent changes to the minimum smoking age, however. Big tobacco, for one, is likely to fight it tooth and nail. Retailers that sell tobacco products and e-vapors are also reeling from the consequences.

Micheal Mullen, a manager at Aqueous Vapor in the Kansas City voiced his concerns.

Employees at gas stations and convenience stores have also spoken out against raising the smoking age, since they are typically the ones left to enforce it by checking IDs every time they make a sale. They’ve spoken out against being “babysitters” for adults who should be able to make their own decisions concerning smoking.

Will Other Cities and States Follow Suit and Raise the Minimum Smoking Age?

Massachusetts is next on the list of places considering raising the minimum smoking age to 21. The move comes after a number of different cities and communities in Massachusetts have already raised the minimum age to 21.

If the bill in Massachusetts passes, it would become the second state to raise the minimum smoking age, statewide. Earlier this year, Hawaii became the first state to raise the minimum age to 21, although the law won’t go into effect until January 1, 2016. The law in Hawaii makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to smoke or purchase tobacco or e-vapor products.

Per usual, politicians also seem to be on opposite ends of the debate on raising the minimum smoking age as well.

In favor of raising the age, Hawaii Governor David Ige said, “Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii state Rep Angus McKelvey said, “I can’t stand cigarette smoking. It’s disgusting. But to tell somebody you can go and fight for your country and get killed but you can’t have a cigarette, that’s the thing.”

Although the dangers of smoking cigarettes are widely accepted as fact, the notion that adults who are old enough to serve in the military aren’t old enough to purchase cigarettes is probably something that will be debated for a while.


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