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The Rundown – City to consider raising minimum age for tobacco products

Post Date:07/10/2019 1:07 PM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. July 9, 2019, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission agreed to consider an ordinance that would raise the minimum age to 21 to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Newton High School students Eli Redington, Savannah Hunsucker, Karly Green and Mallory Seirer from the STAND program presented about the widespread use of e-cigarettes, especially Juul, among their peers. According to the Kansas Communities That Care survey, in 2018, 5.16 percent of Harvey County youth reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. This year, that number is up to 11.89 percent. Among high school seniors alone, usage is 29.29 percent.

The students said they don’t believe their classmates fully understand the contents of e-cigarettes or the potential harmful effects on their developing brains. Raising the minimum age, they said, could significantly cut back on teen usage.

STAND is a youth leadership initiative of Mirror Inc.

City Commissioners were supportive of the students’ efforts and directed City staff to bring back an ordinance for them to consider at the July 23 meeting. Similar ordinances have recently been adopted in Topeka and Garden City.

Rural life school

The Commission approved a resolution declaring its approval for an agriculture-based elementary school within the city limits. The Newton School District’s upcoming bond election includes two questions, the second of which pertains to construction of a new elementary school on the south side of the city. If Question 2 should pass, the Walton Rural Life School would be closed, and its agriculture-based program would be implemented in the new school.

Current City Code already allows for the keeping of farm animals by an accredited educational institution and/or institutions operating under a U.S. Department of Agriculture license, so the Rural Life program likely could already operate legally within the city. The resolution simply provides a statement of policy and message of support for the program, should the voters decide to proceed with the bond issues and relocation.

Community recognition

The Commission recognized Newton wrestler Nick Treaster, who recently won a national championship and a runner-up medal at the USA Wrestling National Freestyle and Greco-Roman Championships. He will be a freshman at Newton High School this fall.

Commissioners also honored School Resource Officer Jon Adkins, who recently became certified as a National School Resource Officer Practitioner.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Directed staff to begin the process of amending the City’s zoning regulations to accommodate murals, and requested the Planning Commission’s recommendations.
  2. Heard a 2020 budget request from Health Ministries, requesting $40,000.
  3. Appointed Dan Heinze to the Substance Abuse Board.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or