Effort in St. Louis County to ban sale of tobacco products for anyone under 21

ST.  LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - Tobacco 21 is a campaign that is sweeping the nation.  The law banning the sale of cigarettes to anyone under 21 is now in 190 cities in 12 states.  It’s state law in all of California and Hawaii.

A hearing was held Wednesday in St. Louis County for an ordinance that would make the county the seventh jurisdiction in the state to keep anyone under 21 from purchasing cigarettes.  Some council members questioned what would keep young people from crossing county lines to buy cigarettes and that is the first step towards a statewide ban.

But the real opposition to the bill appears to be over the inclusion of other tobacco products like vapor or ecigarettes.

Proponents say all contain trace amounts of nicotine and studies indicate some users eventually switch to real cigarettes.

But opponents say the opposite, that vapor cigarettes are a useful aid in kicking the smoking habit.

The Director of the County Health Department Dr. Faisal Khan says there are no conclusive studies to back that claim.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association issued a statement that reads in part:

"The proposed St. Louis County ordinance is a bad idea that hurts local businesses, adult consumers and local tax revenue. most importantly, it`s ineffective since sales of tobacco and e-cigs will not decrease but will simply shift to outside of county limits.”

The county council will take up the bill Tuesday night and vote on it the following Tuesday.

Once County Executive Steve Stenger signs it, it would likely become law by the end of September.