Springfield considers raising the legal age limit for tobacco sales

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Monday night, the Springfield City Council discussed an initiative concerning tobacco use and sales.

They are considering a city ordinance that would raise the legal age to buy it within city limits.

Statistics show that 96 percent of adults who use tobacco, including e-cigarettes, started at an early age.

Dozens of states and communities have adopted the Tobacco 21 program. It aims at stopping tobacco use before it starts. The new law would raise the legal age required to buy cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21 years old, the same age required to buy alcohol.

Right now, in Greene County, the average age of a person who uses tobacco for the first time is about 12 years-old.

The president of Cox Health, Steve Edwards, used a personal story about his father's addiction to nicotine, to drive his point against smoking home.

"My last lucid conversation with my father before he passed away was when he was in a hospital. He asked me to take him outside on a cold winter day to smoke. He told me that I should wheel him to the circus, so I can be in a freak show, to tell children what smoking does to them. He was someone, that most of his life, would argue about personal liberty but I know at the very end, he'd be supportive of this," said Edwards.

The proposed ordinance would do away with fines for people under the age limit who possess tobacco products, however, police may confiscate it.

Council could vote on raising the age to buy tobacco July 1st.