Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

City Bans Cigarettes for Adults under 21

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

City Bans Cigarettes for Adults under 21

Article excerpt

Topeka's governing body on Tuesday evening banned the sale of tobacco products to adults ages 18 to 20.

That body, consisting of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, voted 8-2 to approve Councilwoman Elaine Schwartz's proposal to prohibit the sale or furnishing of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products, including electronic cigarettes, to anyone under 21.

Wolgast and council members Schwartz, Karen Hiller, Sandra Clear, Sylvia Ortiz, Michelle De La Isla, Brendan Jensen and Richard Harmon voted in favor while Councilmen Tony Emerson and Jeff Coen dissented.

Before Tuesday's vote, Schwartz read aloud a letter from a 9-year-old Topeka girl who gave several reasons for approving the proposal, including that people who are 21 can better control what they say and do than people who are 18 can.

"I think our kids are overwhelmingly in support of this," Schwartz said.

Emerson and Coen both said their votes reflected their views regarding personal liberties.

Emerson said that while he hates cigarettes and no one in his family smokes, he "even more" hates government intrusion into personal lives.

He noted that he formerly served in the Air Force, adding "for better or for worse, we consider 18-year-olds to be adults in this country, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof."

Tuesday's vote came after the governing body heard 10 people, including several health professionals, two teenagers and Shawnee County Commission chairman Bob Archer, speak in favor of the measure while two -- both professionals involved with the convenience store business -- spoke against it.

The measure's approval will end an arrangement through which the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Topeka has been 18.

Tuesday's vote came after Shawnee County commissioners voted 2-1 on Aug. 10 to approve a nearly identical measure covering the county's unincorporated areas.

The city council on Tuesday evening also voted 7-2, with Wolgast not having a vote and Clear and Coen dissenting, to defer action for two weeks on Jensen's proposal to make various changes to animal codes.

Those include allowing miniature pigs that weigh less than 150 pounds and measure less than 24 inches tall at the shoulder to be kept as pets within city limits.

The governing body in January began considering Jensen's proposal. A council committee has since been discussing and revising the measure.

Tuesday's deferral came after council members voted 5-4 that evening to reject Coen's motion to amend Jensen's proposal by removing the wording that would allow miniature pigs to be kept as pets within city limits.

Council members Coen, Emerson, Ortiz and Harmon voted in favor of Coen's motion while Jensen, Hiller, Clear, De La Isla and Schwartz voted against it.

When Hiller soon afterward put forth several amendments she wished to see made to the proposal, Harmon made the motion to defer action on it to give council members time to look at those. …

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