CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County--Missouri’s most populated county--is looking to raise the minimum age people can legally buy tobacco products to 21 years old from 18, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Councilman Sam Page was recently scheduled to introduce the legislation. “The start of the school year is the perfect time to hit the reset button,” Page said. “It is far too easy to purchase tobacco products in St. Louis County.”
If enacted, St. Louis County will join Columbia, Mo., 18 metropolitan Kansas City municipalities and local governments in 12 other states in adopting what is known nationally as “Tobacco 21” or “T21” ordinances, the news group reported.
The proposed age restriction would also cover vape products in addition to cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, the report said.
Page’s research said that 8% of Missouri high school students reported trying cigarettes before the age of 13. The national average is 6.6%. Additional studies have placed tobacco use among Missouri high school students at 17.1% vs. 14% nationally, the Post-Dispatch reported. Health experts also say Missouri teen smoking rates are higher than national averages due in part to the state's comparatively low tobacco taxes, the report said.