A Twin Cities suburb is considering upping the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.
The City of Edina discussed it at a council meeting earlier this week, saying it'd be the first community in the state to implement such a law.
City documents say about 95 percent of current adult smokers started before they were 21. The idea is that if people can't smoke before then, they won't pick up the habit at all.
It could also keep cigarettes out of the hands of youths. Apparently 59 percent of 18 to 19-year-olds have been asked to buy tobacco for someone younger.
That's because teenagers are still in their peer group. In theory, high school students don't hang out with as many 21-year-olds. So underage teens would be less likely to find someone to buy them tobacco.
According to the Star Tribune, the City Council voted on Tuesday to start drafting an ordinance on the matter.
There will be more meetings to determine whether to put it to law.
More tobacco facts
Smoking has declined in Minnesota. According to the most recent Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey, 14.4 percent of people were smokers in 2014. That's the lowest ever recorded.
Still, more than 6,000 Minnesotans die from tobacco use each year. Smoking is expensive for the state, too. It costs Minnesota more than $3 billion annually in health care costs.
On a national level, 500,000 people die from tobacco use every year. It costs $289 to $332.5 billion a year, according to Tobacco21.org.
So far there are more than 200 cities across the U.S. that have enforced laws that require people to be 21 to purchase tobacco. Two states – California and Hawaii – also have those laws.
Needham, Massachusetts raised the tobacco age in 2005. Within five years, tobacco use among high school students was almost cut in half, Edina documents say.
A recent study published in Minnesota Medicine predicted that if the whole state were to adopt a higher tobacco age – over the next 15 years, it would prevent 30,000 young people from becoming smokers.
Generally speaking, a lot of people support stricter age requirements. A national survey found 75 percent of adults favor increasing it to 21 – as do 70 percent of current smokers.