INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – A newly proposed city ordinance could put even more restrictions on tobacco sales in the city of Independence.
The ordinance, which will be introduced for the first time in the Nov. 6 City Council meeting, seeks to reduce the number of permits that can be issued for tobacco/convenience stores.
Under the plan, the city would lower the number of tobacco and convenience stores (without gasoline sales) from one per 8,000 residents to one per 15,000 residents. Under the last census, the city showed a population of roughly 116,000, meaning the number of stores allowed would decrease from 14 to seven.
The ordinance has already received approval from the Independence Planning Commission with a 5-0 vote and was forwarded to the City Council with recommendations for its adoption.
The agenda item sheet provided by the city cites the following as the reason for the move:
“According to the Independence Health Department, although progress is being seen in reducing cigarette smoking among U.S. and Independence youth, the use of other tobacco and nicotine products has increased. The government-sponsored Monitoring the Future survey demonstrated an increase in use of other tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes and flavored cigars. Independence data reflects this increase with more students using electronic cigarettes, than regular cigarettes, and 35% of students believing that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. Another study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Center for Tobacco Products found that students who reported using electronic cigarettes by the time they started high school were more likely to report later use of traditional tobacco products.
“Tobacco use continues to be the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. As the City continues to try and take action to protect its citizens from tobacco addiction, the staff is recommending lowering the number of tobacco and convenience stores (without gasoline sales) from 1 per 8,000 residents to 1 per 15,000 residents. With the last decennial census noting a population of 116,882, this would lower the number of tobacco and convenience stores (without gasoline sales) allowed from the current 14 to 7.”
The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA) is already gearing up to fight the ordinance.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.