Alderman Jeff Bethurem made the proposal at last week's regular board meeting, noting that as stewards of the community the board has an obligation to help prevent youth from using tobacco and e-cig products. Postponing the use of tobacco and e-cigs a few years could give the youth a chance to better understand the potential harm it does, Bethurem said.

The minimum age to buy and use tobacco products including e-cigarettes in Osage Beach may be increasing.

The Osage Beach Board of Aldermen is expected to consider an ordinance at its next meeting April 20 that would raise that age from 18 to 21.

Alderman Jeff Bethurem made the proposal at last week's regular board meeting, noting that as stewards of the community the board has an obligation to help prevent youth from using tobacco and e-cig products.

Postponing the use of tobacco and e-cigs a few years could give the youth a chance to better understand the potential harm it does, Bethurem said.

"The community has come a long way in recent years in emphasizing the hazards of smoking in public places as most restaurants and bars now prohibit smoking inside their facilities. This is another step forward for the community," he said.

Jean Horrall, a member of the Smoke Free Coalition at the Lake, also urged the board to take action. As a former school nurse in Osage and Camdenton, she saw young people using tobacco products.

"I was concerned about the seventh and eighth graders who said they were getting cigarettes from older students who were of age who could legally buy and carry those products on school property," she said. "If we can do anything to reduce young children, these kids, from getting these cigarettes until an adult age maybe they'll make decisions that are better for themselves and our community."

She noted that e-cig companies target youth with flavored vapors and liquids used in those products. The board voted unanimously to have City Attorney Ed Rucker draft an ordinance raising the age for the possession, purchase and use of tobacco and e-cig products.

Aldermen Kevin Rucker noted while he supports the concept, he wants to do some research on his own. The Smoke Free Coalition has encouraged not only the city of Osage Beach Board but also other communities in the lake area to adopt no-smoking policies in public places.

Communities have stopped short of doing that, believing that decision should be left to the individual restaurants and bars.Consequently, a large majority have voluntarily banned smoking while at the same time creating outdoor smoking areas for their customers. 

Mayor John Olivarri said he invites anyone in the community with an opinion on raising the smoking age to the next meeting.