Multimedia Journalist

Eldon board supports raising tobacco purchase age in Miller County

Miller County Health Center Administrator Mike Herbert is asking Eldon and other cities in Miller County for support and action toward a countywide ordinance raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Herbert said he plans to focus on Eldon and asked the Board of Aldermen for their support at its Tuesday board meeting.

A presentation at the Feb. 11 Board of Aldermen meeting — led by Eldon High School students, representatives from the Miller County Health Center and Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation — detailed how problematic tobacco in e-cigarette products has been for local youth.

The Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Missouri Student Survey found 16.8 percent of the 489 Miller County youth surveyed in 2018 believe someone would be “pretty cool or very cool” for smoking e-cigarettes.

During that meeting, Ward 3 Alderman Bryon Hull said the city potentially could see some pushback by creating such an ordinance.

Still, the aldermen said creating a citywide ordinance was an option Eldon should consider.

Herbert said he wants the city to continue to move forward on its own ordinance as well as voice their support for a countywide ordinance.

The Miller County Health Center Board of Trustees is in favor of a countywide ordinance after discussion at its Feb. 13 meeting, he added.

“Health centers in the state of Missouri do have authority to pass countywide ordinances just like the county commissioners,” Herbert said.

He said there is currently no estimate on when a countywide ordinance would be approved.

“We need to be all on the same page and working toward the same goal,” Herbert said.

Tobacco 21 Western Regional Director Ginny Chadwick recommended during the Feb. 11 presentation the city create an ordinance to include a strong definition of tobacco products, set the tobacco sales age to 21 and create a tobacco retail license with penalties for selling to minors.

Herbert agreed to work with the cities in Miller County and said the county health center would provide any resources needed to get the program running.

The Eldon Board of Aldermen agreed to support the health center in its efforts.

If Eldon and other cities in Miller County pass a citywide ordinance without a countywide ordinance, businesses outside city limits would not be affected.

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