Push to raise tobacco sales age gains steam

- An aggressive push by anti-smoking groups to prevent teens from using tobacco products may soon become a reality across Minnesota after Plymouth became just the fourth city in the state Tuesday to raise the minimum purchase ago to 21.

It's an effort spearheaded by Plymouth resident Caitlin DeVos, who lost her mother to cancer when she was 19 and hopes to stop thousands of others every year from feeling the same pain she went through.

“It is going to save our kids from a lifetime of addiction to deadly tobacco products,” she said. “Kids in high school certainly have peers and friends who are 18, but they are much less likely to have a friend who is 21 and willing to buy tobacco for them.”

With the vote, Plymouth joined Edina, St. Louis Park and Bloomington, as well as five other states--Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Maine and Oregon.

Anti-tobacco groups associated with the push say nearly 95 percent of all regular smokers started the habit before they were 21, though business owners worry city ordinances like this simply hurt their bottom line without actually making a dent in the problem.

“When you start banning stuff on a city level, you just push the business to the next town," convenience store owner Abdalla Tobasi said. "These towns are only 10 blocks apart.”

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