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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.”

House strongly endorses raising tobacco sales age to 21

The Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill would also set the minimum age for purchasing vaping products at 21.

The vote was 147-4.

“This bill seeks to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction among youth by restricting access to tobacco and vapor products for anyone under 21,” said Representative Kate Hogan, the House chair of the Legislature’s public health committee.

Both the state Senate and Governor Charlie Baker support such efforts, so it is likely some version of the bill will become law. Health advocates strongly back raising the age, while some industry groups are cool to the idea.

Tobacco use at any age isn’t generally prohibited. State law limits sale of tobacco products to people 18 or older. But more than 170 Massachusetts towns and cities, including Boston, have raised the legal sales age, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Put another way, more than 70 percent of the state’s population lives in communities that have raised the tobacco age to 21.

The House measure would change the age statewide, following several states such as Hawaii, California, and Maine.

If the bill passes the House and Senate and the governor signs it into law, it would also harmonize the minimum legal sales age for three drugs in Massachusetts: alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.

The House bill would also add vaping to the state’s smoke-free workplace law, so anywhere a person is prohibited from smoking they would be prohibited from vaping, too. And the legislation would bar pharmacies from selling tobacco and vaping products.

The Senate passed a similar bill in 2016 by a vote of 32-2 , but it stalled in the House.

Senator Jason M. Lewis, the Legislature’s most outspoken proponent of raising the tobacco age, cheered this year’s House effort.

“I look forward to joining with my colleagues to bring this bill to the floor of the Senate — where it passed with bipartisan support last session — and onward to the governor’s desk,” the Winchester Democrat said.

Tobacco 21 is chance to save teens from addiction

This year, we are celebrating 10 years of a Smoke Free Illinois. This law, while controversial when it was being passed, has become a new, healthier norm. Most young adults barely remember when smoking was allowed everywhere and cannot comprehend people smoking in restaurants and public spaces.

Now, it is time for another new, healthy norm: Tobacco 21. Why 21? Increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products to 21 years of age will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and over time save thousands of lives.

For 17 years, the teen tobacco use rate in our state was on the decline thanks to education and strong laws that kept this addictive and deadly product out of the hands of our youth. Now, because of heavy advertising, easy access, concealable electronic cigarettes and fruit and candy flavors, tobacco use is once again increasing among Illinois teens. In fact, in 2015 (the latest data available) 32.8 percent of Illinois high school youth reported using tobacco products.

Tobacco 21 laws focus on protecting youth from the death and disease associated with tobacco use. Nearly 95 percent of addicted adult smokers started smoking before they turned 21. If we can keep young people from getting hooked on tobacco products before their 21st birthday, they will likely never become addicted.

Tobacco 21 is our opportunity to stop the tobacco industry from capturing today’s young people as tomorrow’s customers. The American Lung Association encourages elected officials at all levels to support Tobacco 21 policies.

Kathy Drea, Vice President, Advocacy

American Lung Association in Illinois