ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-The St Louis County Council votes to raise the age to buy tobacco and vaping products countywide from 18 to 21. The council voted 5-1 last night in favor of the bill known as Tobacco21 or T21. County Executive Steve Stenger is expected to sign the bill on September 19th.
Council member Sam Page, a physician, sponsored the legislation. He told our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that approving the measure is "a big win for the young people of St. Louis County." Page went on to say that raising the tobacco age will 'dramatically decrease smoking habits' and 'save kids` lives.'
West County Republican Mark Harder was the only person to vote against the move. One source of controversy is that the new age restriction not only applies to cigarettes and cigars but also includes vaping products like e-cigarettes.
Vaping advocates pleaded with the council to exclude those products from the bill arguing that e-cigarettes help reduce nicotine addiction. But the council did not buy that position.
The new age limit for buying tobacco takes effect countywide on December 1st.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has indicated that if the T21 bill passed in the county he would like to see the city follow suit. We will see what happens there now that the measure has become law in the county.
The Post also reports that St. Louis County has now joined 190 other U.S. communities to ban the sale of tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems to anyone under the age of 21.