Shawnee tables Tobacco 21 ordinance, restricts future locations of e-cigarette shops in the city

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Shawnee is considering increasing the purchasing age for tobacco products from 18 to 21, and restricting the location of future e-cigarette shops in the city.

The Shawnee city council has tabled the discussion and adoption of a Tobacco 21 ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to people ages 18 to 20 in the city of Shawnee.

Councilmember Eric Jenkins on Monday had suggested tabling the vote on Tobacco 21 until the federal government had determined next steps on the legal purchasing age for tobacco products. Last Friday, President Donald Trump had signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that raises the federal legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21.

Jenkins also said he wanted to take a closer look at any exemptions or grandfather clauses for Layali Hookah, the only hookah lounge in the city catering to customers who consume on its premises.

Emmitt Monslow, owner of Layali Hookah in Shawnee

“I’d like to see the final result before we move on,” Jenkins said of the federal legislation. “It should be a few months, but a few months is not a big deal… I would like to give it time to go back to the drawing board, make sure we protect that business before we move forward.”

Councilmember Lisa Larson-Bunnell, who initially pushed for Tobacco 21, said she had asked city staff to draft two ordinances for it: one without exemptions, and another that would have a grandfather clause for any business that derives at least 65% of its sales for consumption on premises, and where 25% of sales on premises is to customers between ages of 18 and 20.

The only business that would fall under these conditions is Layali Hookah.

The stipulations Layali Hookah would have to follow include prohibiting any purchases of tobacco products that leave the premises; everything must be consumed on site. And if the business changes ownership, then it cannot be grandfathered in as an exemption.

Councilmember Eric Jenkins voted to table Tobacco 21 to a later date.

Emmitt Monslow, owner of Layali Hookah, said his business attracts people from all over the metro area. He said he believes his business will shut down if he cannot sell tobacco products to customers age 18-20. Those customers make up at least half of his clientele who “enjoy the experience” and social atmosphere of his shop, he added.

The city council voted 5-3 to table the discussion and adoption of Tobacco 21 to a later date. Councilmembers Matt Zimmerman, Jim Neighbor, Eric Jenkins, Mike Kemmling and Stephanie Meyer voted in support. Councilmember Lisa Larson-Bunnell, Mickey Sandifer and Lindsey Constance voted in dissent.

Some councilmembers said it was unclear when they will revisit Tobacco 21.

Councilmember Eric Jenkins, who had made the motion to table it, had said his intent for the motion was to wait until any actions at the federal or state level take place.

Councilmembers Meyer and Constance said they understand the council would table it until they can address amended text in the ordinance that exempts Layali Hookah.

In related news, the Shawnee city council voted 7-1 to approve an ordinance that regulates the location of future e-cigarette establishments. Councilmember Mike Kemmling cast the dissenting vote.

There was no council discussion, but just before the vote, Shawnee resident Tony Gillette said he was opposed to more government regulations. He would support more limited government in Shawnee.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error. Layali Hookah is the only hookah bar in Shawnee; it is not an e-cigarette shop.