Following the Keene City Council’s October 4 meeting, city staff are drafting an ordinance which raises the age to purchase and possess tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21. Once a draft of the ordinance has been written, deliberation and discussion of the ordinance will continue in both the full council and in the Municipal Services, Facilities and Infrastructure committee from whence it came.
Interim President Melinda Treadwell said she had discussed the ordinance during a meeting with the Fire and Police Chiefs, and plans on bringing the issue up at her next meeting with Mayor Kendall Lane.
“I hope I have more detail and some sense from the mayor of where he thinks this will go, and then we’re going to need to have some conversations as a campus for what we do… And this is certainly going to be an issue that the students need to weigh in on,” Treadwell said.
No KSC students spoke at the Municipal Services, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee’s public hearing on the proposed ordinance during the committee’s September 28 meeting last month.
“We should be saying something to the city council about what it means, so I need to get a sense of the students’ opinion of this and what the students are feeling about it so I can give voice to that as the city considers this,” Treadwell said.
Treadwell said that it’s her responsibility to speak on behalf of the college,
“My obligation as President is to give voice for the campus for things that are important to the campus and to offer facts about whether we agree or disagree with something, what it will mean, and so that’s the testimony that I will try and put together and deliver by the time this comes back to the council.”
In the meantime, Treadwell said that she needs to go over the facts of the ordinance and get perspectives from the KSC community in order to give a proper response, “We should have an opinion on this, we should say something about it, and again, not knowing what’s in it, what the scope is and what our students, faculty and staff feel about it. I have to get there so that when it comes back later this Fall or by early Spring, I’m ready to go down and say something about it.”
Treadwell said that she has testified before the city in the past on important issues pertaining to KSC and its community, with her first testimony being given in her first few weeks in office when last year’s Pumpkinfest was given a license to be held on Main Street.
“In that instance, not an ordinance per se, but a city action that I weighed in very strongly on, and the city council ultimately voted to go forward with the event and I said I would respect whatever was done but it was important to express the opinion. That was my opinion, but it was informed by the leadership of the college and the concerns of campus at the time,” Treadwell said.
Based on her discussion with the police chief, Treadwell said that the ordinance might take until spring before its developed any further,
“The Chief of Police didn’t think this would come back out of being developed until the spring, so there’s time for us to try and understand the implications.”
Treadwell said that in order for her to better understand how to react to the ordinance, she needs input from the student body.
“I need the students’ voice in my mind and helping me understand what this ordinance will mean to them, and give voice to that. I have no problem stepping forward and speaking on behalf of the population of the college before the city, whether its for or against something under deliberation, that’s my job,” Treadwell added.
Senior public health major Katelyn O’Rourke said that she is 21 years old, doesn’t use smoke or vape, and supports the city’s ordinance.
“I think probably around 21 the brain is more developed, I think people can make more choices. I know a lot of people that wish that they didn’t start smoking at a younger age, so I think by putting it off to at least 21, I think that it’ll help people prolong the choice to buy the products. I think it’s also a good policy to have in place just to prevent more people from becoming more addicted to nicotine and tobacco products,” O’Rourke said.
First-year film major Chloe Warren said that she is 18 and doesn’t smoke, but doesn’t support the ordinance.
“I feel like generally, when you raise the legal age to own something or consume something, it doesn’t actually have a better effect, it makes it more harder to get, and there’s all these legal problems with people getting fake I.D.s to get tobacco and all that kind of stuff, I think it’s just going to make a messier situation out of what they already have,” Warren said.
Despite not supporting the ordinance, Warren said that vaping has taken a hold on campus, “I was surprised when I got here just like how much people vape all the time. I don’t have a problem with it, but like, it’s surprising and I don’t think there really needs to be a concern for the health of people around people vaping, but there are a lot of people really hooked on nicotine here, which is really a bummer.”
Vincent Moore can be contacted at