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The Edwardsville City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1015 on Monday, January 28, 2019 which raised the legal purchase age for cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. The change was prompted by a request from the Wyandotte County Public Heath Department as well as comments from several Edwardsville residents. Tobacco 21 is an initiative which has spread to many Kansas communities over the last few years. Its goal is to make it more difficult for teenagers to have access to tobacco products, citing evidence that it is easier to become addicted to the product the earlier on is introduced to it. The initiative presented to the Council was also supported by USD 204 administration. The motion to change the law in Edwardsville passed by a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Garrett Mellott dissenting. Councilmember Mellott later clarified his vote, noting he is adamantly against smoking of any kind but he had reservations about the government stripping away rights of individuals in this manner.
The change does not criminalize the use of tobacco products for individuals under 21 years of age. For example, people aged 18-20 are in no danger of being cited or ticketed for smoking, chewing, or vaping tobacco products. Rather, the ordinance makes it illegal for tobacco distributors to sell tobacco products to people under 21 years old.
The change officially goes into effect April 1, 2019. The Wyandotte County Public Health Department has committed to aiding the community as the transition occurs and will provide signage and other materials to the six tobacco distributors in Edwardsville.