KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’re under the age of 18 and you smoke, it will soon be much harder for you to buy cigarettes. Kansas City council members are about to pass stronger laws regulating tobacco sellers, to make sure they don’t sell cigarettes to minors.
Regulated Industries will take over the enforcement program.
Right now, the state is supposed to enforce tobacco laws, but city council members say they don’t, and there is concern because officials consider cigarettes to be a gateway drug.
Gary Majors heads up Regulated Industries and used to be a police officer.
He said every drug user he ever met smoked, and said while not every smoker takes illegal drugs, he believes teens who smoke are more likely to try other drugs.
His department checked in on 99 tobacco sellers.
He sent in a teen to buy cigarettes and says 56 of those businesses sold to the minor – most without checking their ID.
Majors believes undercover stings and enforcement will convince tobacco store and gas station owners to be more diligent in checking IDs.
“I think sometimes they just get lax,” he said. “They have a thousand priorities going on that they have to be worried about and sometimes the enforcement or making sure they are checking licenses or making sure people are trained or making sure people know it’s not the right thing to do, slips on the priority list.”
The City Council is expected to vote and pass this soon.
If a business sells to a minor, they will first get a warning. If it happens again, they’ll pay a fine and could eventually lose their license if they continue to sell to minors.
Majors said it works with alcohol – they have a 98 percent compliance rate and expect it will work with tobacco products, too.