Jefferson City Council raises legal age to buy tobacco products in a close vote

Jefferson City Council raises legal...

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Jefferson City Council approved a measure Monday to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products.

The council voted six to four in favor of Tobacco 21, giving the ordinance just enough votes to pass.

The measure has an immediate effective date, according to City Counselor Ryan Moehlman. That means 18 to-20 year olds can no longer buy tobacco or vapor products, such as e-Cigarettes, within city limits.

However, the new ordinance does not ban 18 to-20-year-olds from possessing the products.

"I believe it will reduce the amount of smokers that become addicted of those that are actually under 18 because research has found that those that are purchasing it at 18 are also purchasing it for those who are younger than that," said Second Ward Councilwoman Lara Ward, who voted in favor of the bill.

This makes Jefferson City the 12th jurisdiction in the state to pass Tobacco 21.

Columbia was the first city in Missouri to pass a similar measure back in 2014.

Council members Jim Branch, Larry Henry, Erin Wiseman and Rick Prather voted against the measure.

"I'm not in favor of smoking, but I'm against an overreaching government," Branch said. "And that's all that ordinance was, was just government overreach."

Businesses that are caught selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age will face a $100 fine for the first violation within a two-year period, a $250 fine for the second violation within the same time frame and a $500 fine for any additional violations within a two-year period.

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