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Iola Becomes Third City in Kansas to Ban Those Under 21 From Buy - KOAM TV 7

Iola Becomes Third City in Kansas to Ban Those Under 21 From Buying Tobacco

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IOLA, KANSAS -

Iola, Kansas hopes to stop future generations from getting hooked on cigarettes.

Tobacco 21 is really a community effort. It's about the health sector, social service sector, members of the business community, and just regular everyday folks,” says Thrive Allen County Executive Director David Toland.

The group led the push modeling an ordinance after similar legislation that passed in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri back in November.

The new law goes into effect on June 1st and prevents minors under age 21 from purchasing all tobacco products, a time experts say is critical.

Thrive Allen County Community Health Educator Bobbi Bonds says "95% of adult smokers become addicted by age 21 and 90% of new smokers start between the ages of 18 and 21. so if you curtail the ability to buy the tobacco until they're beyond 21 then we will lessen the adult smokers or lifelong smokers."

And many local smokers agree. Richard Culbertson says "I just think that if they increase the age limit that breaks it down a little bit more that the kids don't get a hold of it."

Lindsey Crites says "with less access to it you know, then maybe we won't have as many smokers out there. I wish if there would've been stricter laws when I started then maybe i wouldn't be smoking now."

But local business owners have mixed opinions about the new policy.

Brian Shaughnessy owner of “O’Shaughnessy’s Liquor“ "With a smoke shop attached to a liquor store I deal with customers of both ages 18 and 21 and so the good news is I will only have to see one ID now instead of 2, I'll know one year instead of 2. But the bad news is I do have a lot of customers that are 18 to 21 because we have a JUCO here."

His competition down the street, “Ray's Mini Mart”, says it will hit his business hard, with kids under 21 amounting to about 55% of his sales.

And there's loopholes, there's nothing preventing 18- 21 year olds from smoking or someone from buying tobacco for them.

“Ray’s Mini Mart” owner Raymond Hess says "I think it's stupid of 'em because if they smoke at 18 they should be able to buy the cigarettes at 18."

According to Thrive Allen County, the county's smoking rate is significantly higher than the state average. More than 23% of adults in Allen county smoke compared to the state average of 20%. And for youth smokers from age 11-18 the rate is 14.6% in Allen County versus the state average of 8.4%.

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