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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Tuesday Columbia City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would crack down on the sale of individual cigarettes.

It's against federal law to sell cigarettes out of the pack and police believe minors are purchasing them in Columbia.

The street term for individual cigarettes are called "Loosies" and Chief Santiago says the ordinance would give his staff the power to enforce it here in the city.

Despite being a federal law to not sell cigarettes out of the pack, Santiago says Federal agents aren't going to waste the manpower of enforcing it in small cities.

He says they have gotten word that some small convenience stores in Columbia are selling "loosies" because it is cheaper for the customer despite being illegal.

He also says some are breaking the law by selling them to minors.

"If you look at it, it really helps us from the public safety stand point with underage smokers getting a hold of this so there are definitely some revenue issues there with taxes but when you look at the public safety issues of it, it really will help us go a long way with it to curb the underage use but also the violation that's on the federal side," said Santiago.

The second reading will be at council's first meeting at the start of the New Year.

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