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Tobacco suit puts stringent smoking ordinances into question

April 7, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Fifteen municipalities in the Kansas City, Kansas metro area have passed ordinances restricting tobacco sales to people 21 and older.

But a recent ruling in Shawnee County is calling into question whether such ordinances are legal.

A tobacco retailer won its case last month against Topeka’s Tobacco 21 ordinance, The Kansas City Star reported . The shop’s lawsuit argued that the city’s ordinance violated state law because the tobacco licenses the Kansas issues to retailers allow them to sell to people 18 and up.

But supporters of the ordinance argued that state law prohibits retailers from selling tobacco only to people under the age of 18. The say Tobacco 21 ordinances are more stringent, but don’t conflict with it.

The shop’s attorney, Robert Duncan, said the recent lawsuit could lead to more in other parts of the state.

“I’m in conversations with folks about duplicating our Shawnee County efforts elsewhere,” Duncan said.

Mark Greenwold is an attorney for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and Mike Freiberg, is an attorney with the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium at the Public Health Law Center in Minnesota. They called the tobacco ruling highly unusual.

Greenwold and Freiberg said there are hundreds of Tobacco 21 ordinances nationwide. But only a few have been challenged in court.

“It’s certainly possible it will embolden people who are opposed to it,” Freiberg said.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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