Businesses, health department explain how Tobacco 21 will work in Springfield, Mo.
Starting Tuesday, tobacco products are off limits for some in Springfield. It is illegal to sell cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, vaping supplies and other tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department hopes Tobacco 21 makes it harder for kids to get tobacco and start a life-long addiction at a young age.
Kim Lorenzen is trying to navigate the new tobacco law in her east Independence Macadoodles store. She's training workers, putting up new signs and updating her computers.
"Our POS system has an age cue that prompts all of my staff on what products they can and cannot sell to someone," Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen said it's still legal for people 18-21 years old to smoke and they'll just go to other towns to buy what they want. She's concerned about losing revenue to towns where it's still legal to sell to 18-year-olds.
"Obviously, they're no longer going to be buying those products from us, that's going to take revenue away and that will go to outlying counties and that not only takes revenue out of our pocket but also out of the city of Springfield as well," she said.
Assistant health director Jon Mooney said only about 2 percent of tobacco sales come from people 18 to 20 years old. He hopes neighbor cities will follow Springfield's lead in restricting sales of tobacco products.
"I think there's a desire to see Tobacco 21 implemented more broadly but we have to start where we have an influence. I think Springfield can be a great leader for southwest Missouri," Mooney said.
The health department will do annual checks to make sure businesses are complying with the law.
"An underage employee, under the age of 21 employee, going in to attempt to purchase tobacco products followed up with education and if need be, enforcement from our staff," Mooney said.
Lorenzen said the language of the law is confusing. She wonders if she will she get in trouble if she sells tobacco to a 21-year-old who gives it to someone underage?
"If you're over 18, you can have tobacco products, you can use those, but it's illegal to sell to anyone under the age of 21," Mooney said.
Mooney said the health department is not going to start handing out tickets right away. He said it will send out a letter to all tobacco retailers like Macadoodles and work with them for the next few months to implement the change.
for the more information about Springfield's Tobacco 21 law.