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Minnesota is the 25th Tobacco 21 State!
The Minnesota legislature passed a strong, bi-partisan Tobacco 21 bill which was immediately signed by Governor Waltz on May 16th. Including Minnesota, 25 states have passed Tobacco 21 laws, now covering over 207 million people – 62.8% of the U.S. population.
Press release found here.
On May 9, 2020, the House of Representatives passed a T21 bill (HF331) on a bipartisan 89 to 41 vote.
On May 13, 2020, the Senate passed HF331 on a bipartisan 43 to 21 vote after more than 90 minutes of debate that included unsuccessful amendments that would have criminalized underage tobacco use and let military veterans older than 18 still purchase tobacco.
Senate President Jeremy Miller (R-Winona): “I changed my mind on Tobacco 21 after hearing from concerned parents about rising e-cigarette and tobacco use among our kids. Some of the statistics are staggering. The 8th-grade vaping rate doubled in just three years and 26 percent of 11th-graders are vaping. The National Academy of Medicine predicts huge health benefits if we raise the tobacco age to 21. As a lawmaker and father, I am incredibly proud to support this bill today.”
Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis): “My father was drafted into the military during the Korean War and was given free cigarettes with his rations. At 18, he became addicted. He smoked for decades and he really struggled to quit. I have the most respect for people in the military but I don’t want them to come back from service and fight an addiction. This is about the freedom to not start, the freedom to not face addiction.”
Minnesota has an above national average rate of high school smoking and adult smoking. An estimated 102,000 children now under the age of 18 will die prematurely due to smoking, with 2,500 children becoming daily smokers each year. The high school student’s e-cigarette usage rate is 19.2%; driving up Minnesota’s overall youth tobacco use rates.
The state is currently spending 43% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, and recently increased its cigarette tax to $3.04 a pack. While their progress is encouraging, the numbers still show that health care costs due to smoking are $2.51 billion annually, with another $1.54 billion in lost productivity.
There is no preemption language present in state law keeping localities from raising the Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) to 21. Local governments are free to enact ordinances to better protect their kids from addiction. It has been our experience that the most powerful incentive for the state legislature to act is the initiative of local citizens and governmental leaders. Statewide, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, and Hawaii’s laws all began at the local level where powerful tobacco industry lobbyists have little sway. Local champions have largely driven this movement in non-preempted states. Constituents are an impetus for change at the community and statewide levels.
For More Information, Please Contact:
- Aschelle Morgan
- Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation
- Western Regional Director
- (904) 655-5698
- Jodi Radke
- Tobacco Free Kids
- Director, Rocky Mountain / Great Plains Region