Independence City Council votes to cut number of tobacco-only shops in city in half

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- You are no longer welcome here -- that is the message Independence leaders are sending to one type of business they say is hurting the health of our children.

National studies show cigarette usage among teens is falling, but the number of teens using "other" forms of tobacco is on the rise.

Right now, there are 14 tobacco stores in Independence offering cheap cigarettes and other tobacco products, but that number is about to be cut in half.

The Independence City Council agreed Monday to lower the number of tobacco stores allowed in town from 14 to seven. These are tobacco only stores – it doesn’t include convenience stores that also sell gas.

They aren’t going to force any of the current 14 tobacco-only stores to shut down, but if any of them lose their business license, they will not be able to get it back.

And no new tobacco stores can set up shop in Independence until at least eight of them shut down, meaning the city is giving up business revenue to try and improve public health.

In making this decision, city leaders looked at data from a government sponsored survey showing a national increase in “other” types of tobacco like, flavored tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

A recent study by Cancer Research UK found those who only smoke e-cigarettes do drastically reduce their intake of cancer causing chemicals. But it also found most smokers use both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes, and when they do that they don’t reduce the amount of toxins in their body.

Independence leaders say teens still don’t truly understand the dangers of tobacco and so they hope by limiting the number of tobacco-only stores in town, it will prevent many from getting into the habit in the first place.