News Archives

Our View: Minnesota’s cities continue to lead in snuffing smoking

With elected state leaders still mostly just blowing smoke, Minnesota’s cities continue to take steps to improve health, clear the air, and prevent young Minnesotans from being ensnared by the deadly dangers of cigarettes and tobacco use.

Last week, St. Peter became the ninth Minnesota city in just a little over a year to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21. It joined Edina, St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth, North Mankato, Shoreview, Falcon Heights, and Minneapolis in passing so-called “Tobacco 21” policies.

“Seeing local entities take charge of tobacco-prevention measures in their communities: That is so encouraging to us,” Anne Mason of the Minneapolis-based smoking-cessation group ClearWay Minnesota said in an interview last summer with the News Tribune Opinion page.

At that time, only Edina had raised the legal age to buy tobacco, and only a couple of other cities in our state were taking their first steps. Imagine Mason’s giddiness now.

“(Raising the legal age) takes it out of a high school kid’s social circle. If (tobacco companies) don’t get to you before age 21, chances are you won’t become an addicted adult,” she said. “(Local communities taking charge, taking action) is how great policies have passed in the past, and clearly Duluth has been a leader in this, in protecting clean indoor air, even with e-cigarettes, before the state had acted.”

You now have to be 21 to buy tobacco, vape products in Westchester

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County lawmakers raised the age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 in a vote Monday night.

The county Board of Legislators voted 16-1 to increase the age to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes, rolling papers and other products. Only Republican Minority Leader John Testa voted no.

Increasing the age will reduce the amount of people who become regular smokers, lawmakers said.

The change is expected to be signed into law by county Executive George Latimer. It goes into effect 60 days from when it’s enacted.

Westchester is the latest municipality to up the age to 21, after a similar measure became law in Rockland County in April. The town of New Castle in Westchester passed its own bill to increase the age earlier last month.

The statewide age is 18, but municipalities can choose to increase the age on their own. New York City and several other counties have been upped to 21. The minimum age in Nassau County is 19.

The state has debated raising the statewide age for tobacco products to 21.

Minneapolis City Council Unanimously Raises Age To Buy Tobacco To 21

Minneapolis, the largest city in the state, has been given the green light to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco.

City council members passed the ordinance Friday that raises the age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21.

Minneapolis is not the first Minnesota city to make this change, but they are on the forefront. With a unanimous vote, it is now the seventh city in the state to pass a Tobacco 21 Ordinance.

“Starting at the age of 12, my mother smoked two packs a day,” city council member Lisa Goodman said. “Tobacco is an addiction.”

Minneapolis joins other suburban cities in Minnesota — including Bloomington, Edina, Falcon Heights, Plymouth, Shoreview, St. Cloud and St. Louis Park — in raising the age for sales.

“Today kids in Minneapolis continued blazing a trail for change in Minneapolis and around our state,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. “Passing this ordinance marks a resounding victory for our kids’ health and a tipping point for a change in state law. Our city is joining a coalition fighting the tobacco lobby to reduce youth smoking.”

Worthington bans tobacco sales to those under 21

Worthington has joined a growing number of central Ohio communities in banning the sale of tobacco to people under 21 years old.

Worthington City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to approve an ordinance raising the minimum age to 21 for those who can buy tobacco and tobacco-related products. The new law will take effect July 1, but no citations or fines would be imposed on retailers who break the law until Oct. 1.

Council President Bonnie Michael said she had “not heard one negative comment” from the community about the new ordinance.

“I think this is going to be a really life-changing program for everyone who lives and works in Worthington and all the kids who go to school here,” said Councilwoman Rachael Dorothy.

Falcon Heights and Shoreview Vote to Put Kids Above Tobacco Industry Profits

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 60 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, applauded the cities of Falcon Heights and Shoreview for voting to put their kids above tobacco industry profits. On Monday, the Shoreview City Council voted unanimously to raise the tobacco sales age to 21, becoming Minnesota’s sixth Tobacco 21 city. On Wednesday, the Falcon Heights City Council passed a two-part tobacco prevention policy aimed at protecting youth. The Falcon Heights policy restricts the sale of menthol-, fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores and raises the tobacco sales age to 21. Falcon Heights becomes the state’s seventh Tobacco 21 city and fourth to restrict the sales of all flavored tobacco products.

“Shoreview and Falcon Heights join cities across the state that are taking bold steps to protect our youth from tobacco addiction,” Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay MinnesotaSM, and co-chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition, said. “We’ve seen how e-cigarette use is exploding among Minnesota kids. Tobacco 21 and restricting flavored tobacco products are common-sense policies that will put additional barriers between young people and nicotine addiction.”