Leawood this week became the latest city in the area to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The city council unanimously voted on Monday to amend the city code to make it illegal to sell smoking products, including electronic cigarettes, to those under 21 after hearing from members of the Tobacco 21 initiative.
Eight retailers that sell tobacco and e-cigarette products in Leawood will be affected. Mayor Peggy Dunn clarified that the city is not making it illegal for those under 21 to smoke.
“For the record, this is all about the purchase. And that is consistent with every other city who has passed this to date,” Dunn said.
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The Tobacco 21 initiative is being pushed by an association of groups known as Healthy KC led by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. They have requested area municipalities raise the minimum age for buying smoking products from 18 to 21 to protect young people from nicotine addiction and improve health across the community.
Tobacco 21 ordinances have passed in several cities, including Olathe, Lenexa and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., and in Missouri, Independence and Kansas City. Councils in Mission, Leavenworth and Gardner rejected the proposal.
Councilman Andrew Osman said he was initially against the proposal, but decided to vote for raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products after speaking with his children.
“I did have severe reservations for this,” Osman said. “I had a number of conversations with people that didn’t get me off the point with the exception of my 8- and 10-year-old kids at the dinner table. After a heated contested debate with them, they did sway my opinion.”
Also Monday, the search for a new council member to fill the Ward 3 seat vacated by Carrie Rezac came to a close at Tuesday’s meeting. The council unanimously approved Lisa Harrison to fill the seat through January 2018. The seat was vacant as of April when Rezac resigned due to moving out of the ward. Council woman Julie Cain said she was thrilled with Harrison’s nomination.
“If you have the pleasure of reading Lisa Harrison’s resume, it’s clear that she sure is a shining star and an advocate for our city,” Cain said.
Harrison is currently the editor in chief of Lifestyle Publications, which produces editorial content in Leawood and other cities across the nation.