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City Beat: Council takes stab at Tobacco 21

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The so-called Tobacco 21 ordinance was reshaped at the City Council meeting July 1, but then the bill was tabled for further discussion July 15.

The bill aims to raise the age to purchase tobacco in the city to 21 years old from 18.

Before the tabling, Councilman Matthew Simpson proposed an amendment to limit sales of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, alternative nicotine products and vapor products to the original manufacturer packaging only.

Simpson also suggested language that such products are displayed, stored and sold by retailers in a manner only accessible to employees. Cigars already are allowed for single sale under city ordinance, and Simpson said he doesn’t want to change that existing law.

Albatross Hookah Lounge & Fine Tobacco Emporium owner Chris Slater spoke in favor of the amendment.

“Myself and others at the Albatross feel the amended language is a logical addition to the bill,” he said.

Slater said his shop is age restricted and that the individual sale of cigars and opened bulk bags of tobacco allows customers to inspect the products before purchasing.

The amendment passed 7-1, with Councilman Craig Hosmer providing the lone opposition.

Ginny Chadwick, a regional director of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation promoting Tobacco 21 ordinances across the country, told council there’s currently 480 municipalities in 17 states with similar legislation to what Springfield is considering. She said 40% of Missouri has Tobacco 21 legislation.

Similar laws are going into effect statewide in Illinois and Arkansas. The minimum age to purchase tobacco is 21 in Illinois, effective July 1, while in Arkansas, the law is scheduled to move from 18 to 21 over a two-year period beginning Sept. 1, according to Tobacco21.org.

Springfield’s bill was first introduced at the June 17 meeting, where doctors in attendance spoke in favor of the legislation. Speakers cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show 25% of adults in Springfield are smokers, compared with 16% nationally.

Council unanimously moved to table the original Tobacco 21 bill so it could be discussed with the amended substitute July 15. A vote is expected at that meeting.

Rezoning bills
Council also considered three rezoning bills.

Applicant South Campbell Investments LLC seeks to rezone 8.4 acres to highway commercial from a planned development at 3145 S. Campbell Ave., the current site of Napleton Autowerks Inc.

The proposed user of the property is U-Haul Co. of Missouri, according to Planning and Zoning meeting minutes from June 6.Jared Rasmussen, vice president of Olsson Inc., represented the applicant at the council meeting.

Napleton Autowerks is building a new dealership at 3508 E. Division St., according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

Rasmussen said Olsson is helping the applicant subdivide the property and complete the rezoning process.

The current plan, he said, calls for retrofitting the building into a two-story indoor storage facility.

Rasmussen also represented a second rezoning request: Dr. A. Daniel Pinheiro’s application to convert 6 acres in the 4900 block of South Campbell Avenue to an office district from a medium-density multifamily residential district. Pinheiro, an ear, nose and throat doctor with Mercy, plans to develop an office building, according to city documents, on land that’s part of The Ridge, a $500 million, 100-acre planned development.

Charles Dischinger, a resident on nearby West Farm Road 178, spoke in opposition of The Ridge development, citing flooding concerns.

“It’s already washing out my driveway,” he told council. “This has been going on for 20 years, and I’ve watched it get worse and worse with each new development.”

The third rezoning request, from William C. Beall Jr. Trust, is looking to rezone 4 acres at 2915 S. National Ave. to Planned Development 370 from a single-family residential district. The property has an existing A-1 Self Storage LLC facility, office and a manager’s apartment, according to city documents.

Council is scheduled to vote on the rezoning bills July 15.

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