Eighteen-year-olds can no longer purchase tobacco products in Jefferson City, after the city council voted Monday to raise the age limit for all tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Tabacco21, a project of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, pushed for the measure. The organization advocates for raising the tobacco age to 21 around the country. More than one-third of Missouri’s population lives in areas where the age requirement has been raised.
Ginny Chadwick, University of Missouri Health Sciences Instructor and former First Ward City Council representative, said raising the age to 21 has a large impact on high school students.
“When you move the age up to 21, you’ve really eliminated that access,” Chadwick said. “Very few high schoolers are close friends with a senior in college or a 21 year old.”
Jefferson City Schools prohibit tobacco on school grounds. Amy Berendzen, Jefferson City Public Schools Director of School and Community Relations, says the measure now supports schools’ "tobacco free" policy and education about living a healthy lifestyle.
“We’ve got [students] who are in K-12 and often times students turn 18 that senior year,” Berendzen said. “So what this does is it enables us to protect them and educate them on a healthy lifestyle and making good choices from the grades of kindergarten all the way through [12th], and again before they reach that age of 21.”
The measure passed with a 6-4 vote. Jefferson City was the twelfth municipality in Missouri to pass the age increase. Columbia was the first, passing the measure in December of 2014. Tabacco21 is currently implemented in 16 states.