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Kansas lawmakers to consider raising tobacco age limit

Proposed bill also bans flavored vaping products
Posted at 11:58 AM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 19:18:21-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A proposed bill in the Kansas House of Representatives would increase the minimum age to purchase or possess cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 years to 21 years of age.

The bill, which would bring the state in line with the new federal law, also would ban cigarette vending machines and the sale of flavored vaping products, other than menthol.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Eplee, says he wanted to introduce this legislation to fall in line with federal standards on the issue.

He also believes it will help cut down on several of the health issues some people face when vaping.

"We’ve seen some catastrophic health events from vaping, not only in the state of Kansas, but throughout the United States,” Eplee, R-Atchison, said.

Under current state law, the use of tobacco products is prohibited in school buildings. The proposed bill would broaden the law to prohibit cigarettes, e-cigarettes and consumable material.

The Kansas Department of Revenue estimates state revenues will decrease by $6,870,337 in fiscal year 2021 if the bill goes into effect.

In the U.S., 19 states and the District of Columbia have already raised the legal tobacco age to 21, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Some cities and counties in Kansas, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties, have also enacted local laws in response to the rise in teen vaping.

Many students told 41 Action News the way some teens get the potentially dangerous substance is from other teens selling it to them. Eplee says this bill doesn’t address those concerns, although it can be a start.

"That’s still going to be a problem even after we pass this bill, but I believe it’s going to be even less of a problem because we set the bar higher at age 21,” Eplee said.

Several school districts in the Kansas City metro, including the Olathe, Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission and De Soto school districts, have taken legal action against Juul, a leading e-cigarette manufacturer.

The House is expected to take up HB 2563 on Thursday morning.

To view the bill, click here.