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St. Louis falls to anti-vaping rhetoric by raising smoking age to 21

Only in American would a major metropolitan area like St. Louis County, Missouri, attempt to raise the legal smoking age to 21 simply to squelch the anti-vaping rhetoric of a few very ignorant activist groups.  Yesterday evening by a nearly unanimous vote, the County Council signaled its approval of a new and controversial ordinance creatively nicknamed Tobacco 21, or T21 for short. If enacted into law, St. Louis County will join Columbia, Missouri, and 12 other states in adopting such legislation.

St. Louis Politicians appear ‘out of touch’

While most would agree that smoking tobacco is bad for your health, vaping is not smoking.  Even though there are thousands of research studies and articles stating that vaping is 100% tobacco-free, Missourians have fallen victim to their state and local politicians’ ignorance of the differences between smoking and vaping.  This is evident in some of the voting Councilperson’s own comments regarding the approval of Tobacco 21.


“The start of the school year is the perfect time to hit the reset button. It is far too easy to purchase tobacco products in St. Louis County.”
- Councilman Sam Page, a professional anesthesiologist who should know better
“The tobacco industry continually loses its customer base because it has a product that kills people.  As a result, they need replacement customers — our children.”
-  Karen Englert, government relations director for the St. Louis area chapter of the American Heart Association.


“Does it eliminate teen smoking?  No. But this is more effective than any other tobacco prevention program, including raising taxes or quality indoor air ordinances.”
- Ginny Chadwick, a member of the Columbia City Council who spearheaded the T21 initiative



Vape shop owners in St. Louis County are outraged.  Almost all of the public comments made by local politicians focus on the dangers of smoking.  So why should local vape shops be included in the Tobacco 21 legislation?   Vaping is a 95% safer and healthier alternative to smoking and should be embraced instead of demonized.  By including vaping into the T21 legislation, lawmakers like Sam Page and Ginny Chadwick are essentially harming public health instead of helping it. 

Strangely, the new legislation happens to have some rather interesting exceptions.  For example, the River Casino and Hotel in Lemay is exempt from Tobacco 21 as is the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights.  Even certain bowling alleys, bars, and nightclubs in the area are not being forced to abide by the new laws.  But vape shops?  According to politicians in St. Louis County, these small business owners must follow the same rules as Big Tobacco.


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