Politics & Government

City in Kansas will consider raising the vaping age to 21

The city of Newton is considering raising the minimum age for using tobacco products from 18 to 21. The measure would include all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, commonly called “vapes.”

City staff is drafting an ordinance in response to a group of Newton high school activists, Eli Redington, Savannah Hunsucker, Karly Green and Mallory Seirer. They’re part of a program called STAND, which works to prevent substance abuse.

Concerned about the rampant vaping by their classmates, they addressed the Newton City Commission on Tuesday, citing a study by the Kansas Communities That Care survey that found in 2018 that one in 20 Harvey County youth reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.

The students say that rate has more than doubled in the last year, with use by high school seniors climbing to 29.29%. Raising the minimum age could significantly cut back on teen usage, the students said.

Newton, about 30 miles north of Wichita, will consider an ordinance that would raise the legal age in city limits at its July 23 City Commission meeting.

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.