Hennepin County approves raising tobacco age to 21 for select cities, MSP Airport

The ruling also limits the sale of flavored tobacco and establishes a minimum price for cigars.
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Four Hennepin County cities and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport will join a growing list of jurisdictions limiting the purchase of tobacco products to those 21-years-old and older.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution 6-1 Tuesday establishing the age restriction for the cities of Greenfield, Mound, Rockford, Rogers and St. Bonifacius as well as the airport.

These cities do not regulate tobacco sales on their own and therefore leave control to the county.

The board also voted on other additional restrictions for those jurisdictions. Effective at the start of 2020, flavored tobacco will be limited to adult-only stores and cigars will have a mandated minimum price of $3.

District 7 Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the only dissenting vote, said these two provisions would hurt small businesses and primarily affect adults, not young people.

"The effects on small businesses that do sell cigarettes or tobacco products in these cities likely is going to be devastating,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Other board members cited county data to support the resolution, saying it was written in the interest of young people.

District 6 Commissioner Jan Callison noted data that 19 percent of 11th grade students in suburban Hennepin County use tobacco. She said the numbers in her district, which covers Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka, Mound and Shorewood, were higher.

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She said the business impacts Johnson pointed out would be minimal compared to the impact it would have on young people.

“For me this is about protecting kids. And I appreciate Commissioner Johnson’s argument. I understand there will be a business that will be affected,” she said. "I’m not sure if it will be catastrophic, but it will certainly make a difference.”

The resolution passed the board’s health committee earlier this month. 

The five jurisdictions join a number of others in the Twin Cities to set similar restrictions on tobacco sales in recent years. Bloomington, Edina, Minneapolis, Roseville and St. Louis Park have all raised the tobacco age to 21, according to Clear Way Minnesota

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