After Edina ups smoking age to 21, is the rest of Minnesota next?

The bill would also increase fines for retailers caught selling to underage smokers.

It's only been a few days since Edina voted to increase the age you can buy cigarettes in the city to 21, and some lawmakers now want to see the same thing happen statewide.

A bill proposed in the Minnesota Senate by four lawmakers and introduced by Sen. Carla Nelson (R–Rochester) would raise the state's minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

This would cover products including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes, and if it were to be enacted would make Minnesota only the third U.S. state – after California and Hawaii – to have a smoking age of 21.

It would also introduce stiffer punishments for retailers found selling tobacco to underage customers, with a fine for a first offense fine rising from $75 to $250, with the second and third offenses rising from $200 and $250 to $500 and $1,000 respectively.

A third strike would also lead to a possible revoked license.

Earlier this week, Edina became the first city in Minnesota to raise its smoking age to 21, with council members seeing it as a way to stop more teenagers from taking up smoking.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation research claims that an increase in the legal age to buy tobacco would reduce the number of new smokers by 30,000 over the next 15 years, the Pioneer Press reports.

Sen. Nelson's bill proposal is as much about administrative practicality as it is health, saying it'd be easier to combat teen smoking on a statewide basis rather than "with a patchwork of individual city's efforts," the newspaper adds.

She told the Post Bulletin she is focusing on getting her bill passed this year, though critics of her plan say a 21 smoking age infringes on adults' rights to use a legal product.

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