FORSYTH, Mo. — A school resource officer with Forsyth Police Department is the man behind a revised tobacco ordinance in the city.
Being a school resource officer means Sgt. Steve Huggins is up close and personal with many of the young people who are buying and using these products — and that has a lot to do with why he wanted to see the rules change.
Under the revised tobacco ordinance, in the city of Forsyth, if you’re under the age of 18, purchasing any tobacco product is against the law.
“Products such as vape devices and e-cigarettes and the juices that go with those devices,” said Sgt. Huggins, “What we’re seeing is a trend of younger kids ..uh they’re not carrying tobacco around anymore. They’re using the vape devices and the things that go with those devices.”
The old city code prohibited those under 18 to purchase or possess cigarettes, cigarette rolling papers, or any tobacco product. The revision broadens that list of prohibited tobacco products.
Sgt Huggins says he believes young people have the wrong impression about using the vape and e-cigarette type of devices.
“My personal opinion is that kids believe that those products are safer than actual tobacco — and studies have proved that they’re not,” Huggins said.
He believes many young people do it, because it’s the popular thing to do.
“The more kids that see other kids doing it — and they just jump on the boat — the bandwagon or whatever and they just go along with it. They think it’s cool,” said Huggins.
The ordinance was presented to the city’s alderman for a final reading last week.
“Those things are now legal to possess in the city of Forsyth and statewide actually. But, the city has it’s own ordinance,” said Huggins.
He says working with young people is his passion.
“What we want to do is make sure that they know that good choices have good consequences .. and there are consequences for bad choices as well,” Huggins said.
Sgt. Huggins also said that while they have seen an increase in young people using these tobacco products, the problem in Forsyth is not overwhelming.