Shawnee Mission School District urges Johnson County cities to raise tobacco age to 21


On a unanimous vote Monday, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education passed a resolution supporting Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., for raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old and urging the 14 Johnson County municipalities it serves to do the same.

The resolution comes two months after a group from the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City lobbied the district to support its efforts to raise the tobacco purchasing age throughout the metro area.

While the resolution has no impact on current district policy regarding tobacco — all tobacco use is banned on school district property, and students are not permitted to have tobacco products on campus — the board members indicated they hoped it would prompt meaningful legal change at the city level.

“In this statement here we are also prompting our 14 cities, which comprise Shawnee Mission, to take a very good look at also supporting this initiative here,” said board member Deb Zila. “I think this board and this district is committed to doing what’s best for kids. And this, I think, is what’s best for kids.”

Zila noted that a preponderance of research indicates that delaying the age at which youth pick up the habit has a significant impact on their experience with tobacco. People who don’t start smoking as teenagers are less likely to ever start using tobacco.

The current tobacco purchasing age is 18 in all 10 of northeast Johnson County’s municipalities. The statement voted on by the board encourages the same restrictions for smokable tobacco with smokeless products and e-cigarettes.

The school board’s Statement of Position on Health and Wellbeing related to tobacco purchasing is embedded below: