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ST. LOUIS • It will soon be illegal to sell tobacco products, electronic cigarettes or nicotine vapor products to anyone under the age of 21 inside the city limits.

The Board of Aldermen on Friday overwhelmingly passed legislation that will subject store employees to fines of $100, $250 and $500 for first, second and third offenses, respectively.

Dionne Flowers, 2nd Ward alderwoman, sponsored the so-called Tobacco 21 or T21 legislation. She argued that raising the purchasing age to 21 from 18 is an effective strategy to reduce the prevalence of tobacco and nicotine products in high schools where many people pick up the habit.

She said it's easy for an 18-year-old high school student to buy those products and then introduce them to their younger friends. “By the age of 21, their social circle has changed,” Flowers said.

A spokesman for Mayor Francis Slay said he will sign the bill. The legislation will go into effect immediately upon his signature.

St. Louis joins St. Louis County, Kansas City, Chicago and roughly 200 other cities across the country that have passed Tobacco 21 legislation.