by: JonChristopher Collins, HTDN Intern
Branson’s Board of Aldermen discussed Bill 5778 at Tuesday’s meeting. 5778 is the tobacco and vape sales bill that was postponed at the Feb. 11 meeting after concerns regarding the effects of the bill. The bill would prohibit the sale of and purchase of those products to anyone under the age of 21 illegal. Chris Lebeck, Branson’s City Attorney, asked the Board to consider Bill 5793 as a substitute bill and remove 5778 from the agenda. It was voted to be removed and Bill 5793 had its first reading. Lebeck said the changes in this bill include having the age of 21 as the legal age to purchase tobacco removed. However, Bill 5793 includes provisions that require proof of age to purchase the tobacco or vaping products within city limits. Signing and retailer licensing requirements are also in the bill. Lebeck said retailers will be held to a three strikes rule. The bill was postponed until the March 24 meeting.
Missouri law continues to enforce 18 as the legal age even though federal law recognizes it as 21. State staff has been directed to do that until state law is changed. Ginny Chadwick works with Tobacco Twenty-One. “What we know is that local communities are the best place to enact law to make sure to protect the young people of our community,” Chadwick said. Chadwick added that it is an unfortunate truth that the Branson community is a tobacco swamp. Chadwick requested that the Board of Aldermen consider her ideas for changes to Bill 5793.
Lebeck said that tobacco is not a scheduled controlled substance yet and that minors can only be subject to a fine and a fixed fine is in the process of being determined.
More information can be found in Item 9 of the March 10 meeting agenda.