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Proposed tobacco ordinance fails in northern Arkansas

April 19, 2018

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — A proposed ordinance in northern Arkansas that would’ve required customers be at least 21 years old to purchase tobacco products has failed to advance out of a committee.

Students Working Against Tobacco presented the proposed Mountain Home ordinance earlier this month to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the Baxter Bulletin reported. The group also presented the proposal to the full City Council in February.

The committee reached its decision Tuesday after a 45-minute discussion.

“You’re trying to do something that’s really, really good,” committee chairman David Almond told a group of about 15 Mountain Home Junior High School students. “But it seems to me that any time we have an issue, everybody wants to pass a new law.

The students argued that teens under 18 can easily obtain tobacco products from other students or older siblings. Baxter Regional Medical Center Vice President/Chief Operating Officer David Fox also read a letter on behalf of BRMC President/CEO Ron Peterson in support of the ordinance.

“I would ask that you at least listen to the children in the room who are advocating for a proposed law change,” Peterson’s letter states. “The young folks here are passionate, but inexperienced.”

The proposal would’ve barred anyone under the age of 21 from using or purchasing tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and vaping devices. Arkansas law allows anyone age 18 and older to purchase and use tobacco products.

California, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon and Hawaii have increased their minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21. More than 160 cities, including New York; Kansas City and Chicago, have also adopted similar city ordinances.

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Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com

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