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Kansas Supreme Court Hears Tobacco Purchasing Age Increase Case

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On Monday, the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court packed up their robes and took their judicial proceedings on the road to Kansas University’s Lieb Center, where they heard oral arguments for a number of cases, including one regarding the legality of cities raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products.

The case centers around whether or not the city of Topeka had the legal ability to raise the purchasing age when it approved its increase in December 2017. The legality of the increase was challenged in court shortly thereafter by DWAGFYS Manufacturing, Inc., which operates a pair of e-cigarette retailers: The Vape Bar and Puffs-N-Stuff. The retailer received legal support in its case from the Kansas Vaping Association. Following the initial hearing, the increase was prevented from going into effect on its scheduled date of Jan. 11, 2018, after Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis issued a temporary injunction.

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Then on March 22, Judge Theis issued a permanent injunction against the increase, ruling that the Kansas Cigarette and Tobacco Products Act has what he referred to as “bright-lines” for enforcement. “Clearly, one of the principal, if not the principal, bright-line for operation of the Act is designed around the distinction between adults and minors, setting that bright-line at 18 years of age for participation in all aspects of selling or using the products it regulates,” the judge opined. He added that it was unlikely that the state government had intended for municipal intrusion into its operation.

That ruling wouldn’t be the end of the story, however, as in April 2018, the Topeka City Council voted to move forward with an appeal of Judge Theis’ decision, taking the matter to the Kansas Supreme Court. On Monday, the city and the retailers had their day in front of the state’s highest judicial authority. Central to the case is a seeming attempt to interpret lawmakers’ intentions when they wrote the Tobacco Products Act, specifically whether they intended 18-years-old to be the minimum age to purchase tobacco products.

The court’s ruling, which will come at a later date, will affect more than Topeka, however. Approximately 18 cities have passed increases similar to Topeka’s, raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21-years-old.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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