It’s been four months since Kansas City, Missouri, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, became the first cities in the metropolitan area to pass policies to increase the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Since then Gladstone and Independence, Missouri, and Olathe and Prairie Village, Kansas, have passed similar ordinances, with many other municipalities considering joining the list. This effort is thanks, in large part, to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Tobacco 21|KC campaign, a part of the HealthyKC collaboration.
The health impact in these communities is enormous. The University of Kansas estimates that over the next 10 years, these Tobacco 21 policies will:
- Prevent 12,330 youth in the Health Forward services area from becoming addicted to tobacco and nicotine products.
- Result in 4,100 fewer smoking-related deaths in the Health Forward services.
- Save area businesses $7.2 million in costs (total annual excess cost of a smoker to a private employers is $5,816).
Statistics are impressive. But for us, this testimonial given by an Olathe resident, Michelle Reeves, a former smoker who began smoking at the age of 13, really gets to the heart of why these policies are necessary. It’s about keeping our communities healthy, and the people living in those communities, healthy.
The Health Forward Foundation is grateful to be a part of this collaboration and looks forward to continued partnerships with cities in our service area who are interested in improving health in their communities.
Editor’s note: The image above is dynamic; we will continue to update this map as communities continue to approve Tobacco 21|KC policies. So, while the content of this blog post will remain unchanged, the map will be current and available for download.