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Local groups move to repeal smoking law

Local activist groups in Columbia have about two weeks to gather thousands of signatures as they try to overturn the city’s new smoking laws.

On Monday, the city council passed three smoking ordinances. Those against the smoking laws are crying foul, saying it’s bad for local businesses and they want it repealed. ‘We’re gathering signatures on three separate referendum petitions. All three corresponding to the ordinances that were passed Monday night,” said Spencer Pearson, grass roots activist.

The City council passed the smoking ordinances with a six to one vote. Now, the groups fighting to repeal the laws have until January 5 to find more than 3,000 valid signatures from registered voters for each one of the three laws they want repealed. “The support for this petition is out there. It’s just a matter of finding those people and getting their signatures,” said Pearson.

One of the smoking laws bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 in Columbia city limits. Those in favor of the law stress the health benefits of it, saying it would keep teens from picking up the habit. However, those now trying to repeal it say the law will hurt the city’s economy. “This law really doesn’t prohibit 18 to 20 year olds from smoking. All it does is tells them where they have to go to buy their cigarettes — kids are just going to drive to Ashland, they’re going to drive to Lake of the Woods. It’s not really going to affect the smokers as much as it’s going to affect local businesses,” said Pearson.

The other two laws the groups are trying to repeal involve vapor products. One bans vaping indoors and the other bans the sale of vapor productions to anyone under 21.

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