Campaign Starts to Raise Smoking Age to 21 in KCMO

(AP) – Leaders of a campaign to raise the age at which people can legally buy cigarettes from 18 to 21 in every municipality in the Kansas City metropolitan region say it would reduce teenage smoking and make it harder for students to take tobacco products into high schools.
The effort announced Thursday, called Tobacco 21/KC, is part of a national trend that began in the early 2000s. If the campaign is successful, Kansas City would become the second-largest metro area in the country to increase the minimum age, behind only New York City, The Kansas City Star reported ( ).
In December, Columbia became the first city in Missouri to raise the age. No cities in Kansas have done so.
Raising the age would reduce access to tobacco among teenagers, which is when most smokers become addicted, said Jessica Hembree of the Health Foundation of Greater Kansas City. High school seniors who are 18 are the “pipeline” for tobacco into schools, she said.
Changing the age would simply require rewriting municipal ordinances, which should be as easy as “literally one stroke of the pen,” said Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President Jim Heeter. “I don’t see a downside. The evidence is so overwhelming to public health.

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