Group pushes to raise tobacco buying age in metro from 18 to 21 - KCTV5 News

Group pushes to raise tobacco buying age in metro from 18 to 21

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(AP Images) (AP Images)

There’s a big push to raise the legal age for buying tobacco in the metro.

In most places, an 18 year old can buy cigarettes and other tobacco products. But a campaign by a group known as Tobacco 21 KC hopes to change that.

“So we’re hoping by increasing the age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21, we’re hoping to see a significant decline in youth smoking,” said Jessica Hembree with the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

The health care groups say most kids who start experimenting with cigarettes start as young as 12 to 14 and get their cigarettes from their 18 year old friends.

“By keeping those products out of schools we hope to see less of that experimentation, which means we see less of that addiction,” Hembree said.

Jordan Elder is a Park Hill High School senior and member of Youth With Vision. She sees how her peers get their hands on cigarettes and now the ever so popular e-cigs.

“They are definitely marketing them toward children and teenagers because as soon as you get them hooked on it they are hooked on it the rest of their lives and that's money that’s going to continue coming in,” Elder said. “Flavors like cotton candy and root beer. They're not marketing that to adults, but to kids.”

Customers coming in and out of Discount Smokes on Neiman Road are split on the idea of changing the legal age to 21.

“Yeah, I think that would be a good idea to keep everyone away from all the stuff you're more and more in the shops are coming up,” Louis Suceda said.

“If you can be 18 and die for your country, why can't you buy a smoke,” Farin Deck said.

Tobacco 21 shows 94 cities have changed the legal age to buy tobacco to 21. That includes Columbia, MO.

 The entire state of Hawaii has also made the change.

So far, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County is the only municipality to place this on the October Agenda.

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