Now 2 Minnesota cities have raised the age to buy tobacco to 21

The new rule will go into effect Oct. 1.
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There are now two cities in Minnesota where you have to be at least 21 to buy tobacco products.

Edina was the first city to raise the buying age, and on Monday the St. Louis Park City Council unanimously passed a measure to raise the legal age to buy tobacco and tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The ordinance not only raises the legal buying age, but it also increases the fines for those who sell tobacco to people who aren't 21. There are 23 tobacco license holders in the City of St. Louis Park, a news release said.

The new rule will go into effect on Oct. 1. Edina's went into effect on July 1.

Why raise the age?

Those who support raising the tobacco-buying age say it will help limit the number of teenagers who start smoking, which will then limit the number of smokers overall. The Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota said more than 95 percent of current smokers started before they were 21, and if the tobacco age is increased to 21 across Minnesota, it would prevent 30,000 kids from becoming smokers over the next 15 years.

"Smoking contributes significantly to many health issues, both for the smoker and those around them. Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 is a very sensible and easy-to-enforce way to address this serious public health issue," St. Louis Park Council member Susan Sanger said, according to a news release from the city.

Those who oppose raising the age generally disagree with it because it infringes on adults' rights to use a legal product.

St. Louis Park council member Steve Hallfin, who voted against the ordinance at a special meeting in June, said: "I abhor tobacco products, but this ordinance is misguided. An 18 year old is considered an adult and can be a property owner, get married and go to war – I can’t see refusing to sell tobacco to them," according to a news release from the city.

Other cities are looking to do it too

Edina and St. Louis Park aren't the only cities raising the tobacco-buying age.

The City of Robbinsdale is apparently looking into it, the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota says. And advocates have been trying to push raising the legal age in the St. Cloud area, with the St. Cloud Times reporting the effort has the support of Sauk Rapids Mayor Kurt Hunstiger, while the mayors of St. Cloud and Sartell think the issue should be handled at the state level.

There was a proposal during the most recent legislative session that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21 statewide, although it doesn't appear to have gotten out of the committee stage.

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