While the Columbia City Council voted 6-1 on Monday to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and treat electronic cigarettes the same as tobacco as far as purchase and usage, that doesn’t mean the issue is completely settled.
A group of citizens has organized a petition campaign to have all three ordinances reconsidered by the council, a move that could end up putting them on a ballot for voters to decide. The organizers need to gather 3,209 signatures on each petition by Jan. 5 to move the issue forward, something organizer Spencer Pearson told the Columbia Tribune would be difficult because of the holiday season taking residents and college students out of town. Columbia is home to the University of Missouri, which has an enrollment of more than 35,000 students, as well as Stephens College and Columbia College, both of which have enrollments near 1,000 students.
Should organizers gather enough signatures, the council would have to reconsider the measures and if they don’t rescind the ordinances, they would be presented to voters at the next available election, something Mayor Bob McDavid said he would find interesting and support, including posting a message on his Facebook page saying he would support the referendum.
Columbia is home to approximately 115,000 people and is located almost directly between Kansas City and St. Louis, about 125 miles from both cities.