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Rexburg to possibly raise tobacco buying age

Buying tobacco in the city of Rexburg could become difficult for those under the age of 21. The Rexburg City Council will vote soon on a city ordinance that would raise the tobacco buying age.

The Rexburg Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee received a $750 grant from the American Lung Association to support the “Tobacco 21” initiative. It would raise the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21.

“We as youth decided to adopt this cause,” Kelly Pyper, chairman of the committee, said. “It was important to us specifically as youth because it relates to us that we want to have the tobacco sales age raised from 18 up to 21. And that we believe that it’s important in raising the health and wellness of our community and our country.”

The city ordinance would include all tobacco and vaping products including cigarettes and vape pens. The group says raising the age could help decrease the amount of people who become addicted to tobacco at such a young age. They also say it could help keep tobacco products out of schools.

“A couple people at our high school, because they’re 18, they are legally allowed to vape or they’re legally allowed to smoke,” Mason Cameron, another member of the advisory committee, said. “And so that’s a big influence in our schools is if we have these 18-year-olds who are allowed to do it, they can pass it on to other kids in the school and make it a more dangerous environment.”

The mayor of Rexburg says he is proud of the committee for taking on something they’re so passionate about.

“I think it’s just awesome that they have taken the initiative to first go for the grant to help fund their activities so that they can do some things,” Jerry Merrill, Mayor of Rexburg, said. “And then just that they’re confident in themselves and in what they’re cause is to be able to come to the city council and present it.”

The group hopes to support the cause on a statewide level as well. They say that even though they are younger, it is important to them to take matters into their own hands.

“So there’s lots of people that are saying, oh well, you know, this doesn’t matter to me very much because, you know, I’m already over 18 and 21, it just doesn’t affect me” Pyper said. “So, it’s important for us as a youth group to let other youth be aware of this and to show to our representatives that this matters to us and that we want this.”

If approved, this would only affect the Rexburg city limits. The city council will be discussing and voting on this city ordinance next Wednesday, January 3rd.

Five other states have put the law into place. It is illegal to buy tobacco if you’re under the age of 21 in California, Oregon, New Jersey, Hawaii and Maine.

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