Age to purchase tobacco products to move up to 21 in Harrison, Ark.

Published: Oct. 2, 2018 at 9:24 PM CDT
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The North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education teamed up with the youth group Boone County Ignite in Harrison to work toward getting tobacco products and e-cigarettes out of the hands of teens.

Studies show Arkansas is one of the top states when it comes to high adult and teenage smoking rates.

Alathea Bright, the chairman for Boone County Ignite, said, "These people at our school are obviously our peers. They're our generation, and we can see them potentially ruining their lives with these addictive substances,and obviously none of us want that to happen to our friends, our families and our current peers."

The Arkansas Department of Health also announced they want to focus on tobacco control in the state.

Patrick Hunter, the tobacco education coordinator for the Northwest Tobacco Education Network, said, "We do not have grassroots efforts and education at the lower levels. The only way to do that is to potentially change the culture."

And the groups' efforts to change the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 paid off. City council members passed the ordinance.

But some people who live in Harrison don't agree with it.

Aaron Cunningham, who lives in Harrison, said, "I don't think that's fair because once you're 18 years old, you are considered a legal adult, you should be able to do what you want to."

And others say it'll just cause more problems.

Scott Sands, who lives in Harrison, said, "When 18 year olds were buying for the underage people, now you've got 21 year olds buying for underage people from 20 and younger. It's just going to cause more people getting into more trouble, more kids trying to get more cigarettes."

Hunter said, "It only makes sense to take out that demographic. Are kids still going to be able to get cigarettes before 21? Yes, unfortunately. But they won't be able to purchase them. It will not be as easy. And it will hopefully stop some of the proliferation of vaping going on in schools right now."

​The law will not go into effect until January 1st.

And to be clear, if you're 18 or older you still will be able to use tobacco products, just not purchase them.