MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — 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.”
Some local businesses believe the customers they lose will not necessarily stop smoking — they will just buy their tobacco somewhere else.
“They’re going to make their own decisions anyway, and they’re going to do whatever they can to do, whatever they want to do,” Hubener said.
Including, she worries, driving a mile down the road from Stadium Village near the University of Minnesota, over to St. Paul, which does not have the ordinance. Her other concern is keeping track of which cities are raising the tobacco buying age — and which ones are not.
“It’s already confusing, you know. It’s like Edina has this law and Bloomington has this law,” Hubener said.
But places like Richfield and St. Anthony do not, which perhaps is where advocates and opponents can find common ground. Passing Tobacco 21 state-wide could help level the playing field.
“Let’s get this thing done across the state of Minnesota,” said Councilmember Andrew Johnson.
Ordinances vary from city to city. Robbinsdale only restricts sales of flavored tobacco to anyone under 21. Mankato’s city council voted against raising the age limit in February.
Last year, Minneapolis voted to ban the sale of menthol products expect in tobacco shops.
This whole conversation comes in part from a 2017 study from the Minnesota Department of Health, which found tobacco use rose for the first time in 17 years.
This ordinance does not go into effect immediately. It will officially become law in Minneapolis on October 1.