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Tobacco 21 ordinance passed in Gladstone

Gladstone has passed a new ordinance that will make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy cigarettes.

The new law, which will go into effect March 1, changes the definition of a minor regarding tobacco product purchases from 18 years of age to 21 years of age.

City Councilwoman Carol Suter sponsored the ordinance. She says it is just the latest approach to help make the city healthier.

“I’ve been a strong advocate for smoking legislation for years. One of our city values is to be a healthy community. This fits perfectly with our goals to be healthy and have a healthy economy,” Suter said.

This law is the latest in a series of tobacco regulations Suter has supported. Eight years ago, Gladstone passed an indoor smoking ban, followed by an outdoor public places smoking ban. In 2014, the city added e-cigarettes to the smoking ban. Suter said the addition of e-cigarettes was included because the industry quickly grew.

Suter says the most recent ordinance did not have much opposition, which was a big change from eight years ago. The only opposition was an e-mail sent from the Cigarette Retailers Association reminding council members of the importance of sales to small business owners.

“America is a different place now and people so much better understand the dangers of smoking,” Suter said. “The truth is that the smoking rate continues to go down and down. We want to help people not start.”

The law includes regulation of “alternative nicotine” products, as well as tobacco and vapor products to minors under the age of 21.

The Tobacco 21 push is a national effort of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. The group reports on its website that Gladstone is the fourth city in Missouri to adopt a Tobacco 21 regulation.

Some Northland tobacco sellers have already been working with this regulation. Kansas City passed a Tobacco 21 ordinance in November of 2015, making it the second largest city in the country to raise the minimum tobacco buying age. Independence and Columbia also have Tobacco 21 laws.