Earlier this month, the city of Edina, MN got the votes it needed to increase the age to buy cigarettes in the city from 18 to 21. They are the first city to do so in the state.
Edina’s Mayor, Jim Hovland, believes that it is the beginning of a movement in Minnesota. According to the mayor, the law which is to go into effect on July 1st, had very broad community support. Those that were against it were retailers that sell tobacco products.
Council members acknowledge that there may be a small economic impact, but the overall impact on the younger generation’s health is more of a concern. The city cites statistics from the city of Needham, Massachusetts, in which the teen smoking rates had been effectively cut in half since their introduction of the smoking age law in 2005.
Who Will Take the Next Steps?
Some Minnesota lawmakers want to take the next steps and increase the smoking age to 21 statewide.
A recent bill has been introduced by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and four other lawmakers in the Minnesota Senate that looks to capitalize on this opportunity. It would raise the entire state’s age to buy tobacco products to 21. This would cover all tobacco products including cigarettes/e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
If it were to be put forth, the bill would make Minnesota only the 3rd state in the nation to implement the smoking age of 21 behind California and Hawaii.
Retailers would also be under more intense scrutiny for selling tobacco products to minors, with heavier fines imposed if caught doing so, and ultimately a loss of license.
Sen. Nelson advises that it will be much easier to enforce teen smoking statewide than with city by city efforts. The bill currently has a backing of a large variety of health organizations that are part of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition.
We look forward to covering the ongoing narrative of this bill this year since she hopes to get it passed by next year according to the Post Bulletin.