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Tobacco 21 refined by City Council

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The Tobacco 21 ordinance was reshaped at last night’s City Council meeting, 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 on individual sales of tobacco products, moving to add alternative nicotine and vapor products to language limiting sales of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products to those in original packaging distributed by the manufacturer.

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.

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.

The 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.

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