Independence raises smoking age to 21

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Independence has become the third Kansas City area city to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21.

The Independence City Council voted Monday to bans sales of tobacco products to anyone younger than 21 in a 6-1 vote, with Councilwoman Karen Deluccie as the lone ‘no’ vote.

One of the council members who voted in favor of the ordinance, Marcie Gragg, told the Kansas City Star that she believes young people’s brains aren’t fully developed until into their 20s.  Her own son became a smoker before he was 18, although he has since quit.

“I think the more evidence that comes forward that shows us that young people’s brains are not fully developed until early in their 20s tells us that while they have a legal right to do certain things, they don’t always make the best decisions and that’s physiological result of where they are at,” Gragg said.

The Independence vote follows similar actions by the Kansas City Council and the Board Of Commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., which last month raised the age to buy cigarettes to 21.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce hope to convince every municipality in the Kansas City metro area to raise the legal age for buying tobacco.