Casper City Council to Revisit Tobacco Ordinance
The Casper City Council decided Tuesday to redo its ordinance about the age at which someone can buy and use tobacco and nicotine products to be put back for a vote.
Earlier then defeated proposed revisions would have aligned the Casper Municipal Code to changes in state law that, as of July 1, prohibited the sale, purchase, possession and use of nicotine products by anyone under 21. A violation would be a misdemeanor.
But on Dec. 1, the proposed changes lost on a 5-4 vote with some opposition council members saying raising the age from 18 to 21 was arbitrary and ridiculous like laws about the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages.
The defeat posed a problem, and council member -- now vice mayor -- Ray Pacheco asked Casper City Manager Carter Napier what happens with the city out of sync with the state, and Napier said the city could rescind the ordinance entirely and just use the state law.
Tuesday, the council agreed to not repeal the entire ordinance and instead have it conform with the state law.
Council member Bruce Knell asked why the council just didn't adopt the state law in the first place.
Pacheco responded that the council wanted to conform state law into the local ordinance.
Mayor Steve Freel added that local governments can make craft ordinances to make state laws more strict, but not less strict.
Police Chief Keith McPheeters said local ordinances cannot conflict with state law.
Recent budget cuts have affected how many cases police department that could be prosecuted in local district and circuit court, so the police department would prefer to have misdemeanor cases like these handled in municipal court, McPheeters added.
The state statute is designed to as a preventative measure without over-penalizing an offender, he said. "The fines are minuscule to say the least."
The police department believes the ordinance should match the state statutes, McPheeters said.
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