Proposed age increase to buy tobacco could face legal issues

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 COLUMBIA - A Columbia city councilwoman's proposal to raise the minimum age requirement for tobacco purchases could face legal challenges, an MU law professor said Wednesday.

Ginny Chadwick presented an ordinance at the Columbia City Council meeting Monday that would raise the minimum age requirement for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21.

However, this age increase does not align with current Missouri state law.

"If the state law states that the age for purchasing tobacco is 18 then any local measure, like one by the city of Columbia, to raise that age might run into some legal challenges," MU Law Professor Richard Reuben said.

Missouri's law states, "It shall be unlawful for any reason to sell, provide or distribute tobacco products to persons under eighteen years of age."

Supporters of the bill said raising the age would not contradict state law, since it would still prohibit minors from purchasing tobacco products.

The City Council voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Columbia Board of Health and the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission for review.