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Activists in Kansas Propose to Raise Tobacco Buying Age

October 27th, 2015 00:00

Local activists in Kansas City want to fight smoking among teenagers by making it harder for them to buy cigarettes in regular shops. They proposed to increase tobacco buying age to 21, the same as it is for alcohol.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City along with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign called Tobacco 21|KC, which aims to get each municipality in the metro area to increase tobacco buying age from 18 to 21. Activists want that the proposal to include all tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

In case the proposal gets an approval from lawmakers, Kansas would become second largest American city where minimum tobacco buying age is 21. The first city is New York.

Chamber of Commerce president Jim Heeter sees no problem in changing anti-smoking laws in nearly hundred municipalities. He said that we should think more on its evident benefits for everyone.

In her turn, Jessica Hembree of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, explained that raising tobacco buying age will help to prevent teens and kids from taking up the smoking habit. Often 18-years-old buy cigarettes for younger teens, and the ordinance will help to stop this practice.

There is going to be launched a tobacco quit line for young people who will be affected directly by tobacco buying age increase. Health experts say that quitting at an early age will prevent from an addiction. Physician Edward Ellerbeck says that the earlier a man starts smoking the easier he becomes addicted.

In recent years, many cities in the US discuss the possibility to increase tobacco buying age age to 21. However, the idea has not only supporters but also opposers, therefore is not easily adopted.

Needham, a suburb of Boston, is the first municipality which increased age to buy tobacco back in 2005. This helped to reduce smoking rates among youth. Since then, around 90 municipal and county governments have followed its example.

In 2014, New York city raised the age and became the largest one in the US to do it. At the beginning of 2015, Hawaii increased to 21 tobacco buying age in the entire state. However, up to this date no city in Kansas have done so.

The Tobacco 21|KC campaign is supported by the majority of community. The activists have already started discussions with authorities to make changes in the existing anti-smoking ordinance.