Independence city council votes to cut back on stores that sell tobacco

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Independence city council members approved the change of a city ordinance that would reduce the number of convenience stores that sell tobacco. 

"The council earlier this year adopted the strategic plan and one of those items was to address public health city wide, and this is just one of those steps to help to attain that goal," said Tom Scannell with the City of Independence. 

The ordinance would reduce the number of no-gas convenience stores that sell tobacco from a total of 14, by half, down to seven. 

Stores like the 7/11 on Noland Road don't have gas pumps, but the still sell tobacco. Under the new ordinance, existing businesses like this would not be affected. 

"Those businesses that already exist, they get to continue to exist," said Scannell. 

But it would mean that unless there are less than seven stores already operating, no new stores that sell tobacco products can open up shop. However, if any of them were to lose their business license, they would not be able to get it back. 

"They would not be allowed to reopen until we were below the new cap of seven," said Scannell. 

The city of Independence has already raised the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. City leaders say this ordinance change is another step toward making the people living in Independence healthier.

One resident said that is easier said than done. 

"Overall it's probably for the better, it's a good thought, but people are going to do what they want to do when they want to do it," said Kyle Constant with Aqueous Vapor. 

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