TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT) – A bill raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years old in Kansas is headed to the governor’s desk.
The Kansas Senate passed House Bill 2269, 28-11 on Tuesday. The bill passed the House 68-53 earlier this month.
The bill aims to bring Kansas into compliance with federal law, making it illegal for a retailer to sell tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigarettes, to anyone under 21 years old. Currently, the minimum age to purchase these products in Kansas is 18 years old.
During debates in the House, Representative Tom Kessler, a Republican from Wichita who carried the bill, said the state could lose funding from the federal government if the legislation is not enacted.
“We do stand to lose a little bit of funding, if we don’t conform with federal law,” Kessler said. “We’re going to lose about $1.2 million of funding if we don’t make this transition within the window that the feds allowed us to.”
Some lawmakers opposed to the bill stated that while they do not support tobacco use, they are voting to “treat 18-year-olds and above as adults.”
“Today, I choose to treat 18-year-olds and above as adults… Adults who can vote and join the military… Adults who, I strongly encourage not to use tobacco, but who may make that choice.”REP. HUMPHRIES, BARTH, WASINGER, SUTTON, TIM JOHNSON, ESTES, HOFFMAN
Representative John Eplee, a Republican from Atchison, said that while some retailers in the state have moved toward federal compliance, others have not. Eplee said it makes federal law harder to enforce.
“Most vendors have already complied with this but are not required to, and it makes enforcement ‘herky jerky’ in our state,” Eplee said. “Forty-six other states have already fallen into compliance… we’re just asking Kansas to do the same thing.”