Minneapolis considering raising age to buy tobacco to 21

The state's largest city is considering increasing the age to buy tobacco products up to 21 years old. 

Friday, Minneapolis city council members Andrew Johnson and Jeremiah Ellison introduced a motion to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

Edina, Plymouth, St. Louis Park, Bloomington and North Mankato have already raised the buying age to 21. Meanwhile Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis have already severely limited sales of menthol products.

“Increasingly, we are seeing city’s stepping up and leading, especially when you are seeing inactivity at the federal level,” said Johnson. 

Over the past decade and a half, Minneapolis has helped lead the way in limiting where people can light up. In 2004, Minneapolis approved the smoking ban inside bars and restaurants just three days after the City of Bloomington did. Last spring, Minneapolis parks expanded the same restriction outdoors. This time, the target focuses on age rather than location.

“We are trying to figure out how we get people started smoking later in life, so they are making more of a conscious decision instead of being subject to targeting a peer pressure,” said Ellison.

Supporters from the Association of Non-Smokers hope the chain reaction continues.

“There’s a study that looked at the state of Minnesota and if the state were to pass this, it would prevent 30,000 young people from starting to smoke over the next 15 years,” said Betsy Brock of the Association for Non-Smokers. “So that’s huge number and I think it’s definitely worth doing for that reason. 

After smoking for more than 30 years, Douglas Hamblin, supports a proposal aimed to make it even tougher to pick up his habit. 

“If we are going to make 21 the drinking age, we should be 21 for tobacco,” said Hamblin. “They are both risky to your health and takes a little maturity.”