Minnesota Senate Introduces Bill to Raise Legal Age for Tobacco Purchases

The senate introduces a bill that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 in Minnesota

MINNESOTA–Just two days after Edina made the change, the Minnesota Senate introduced a bill that raises the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

Members of the Minnesotans for a Smoke Free Generation coalition called it a win.

“It’s really a huge victory,” said Jason McCoy, the tobacco prevention coordinator with Clay County Public Health.

Edina is the first city in Minnesota to raise the tobacco age to 21.

It joins more than 220 other cities in the nation.

“Ninety-five percent of smokers start before the age of 18 right?” asked McCoy. “They get their tobacco from somewhere.”

The coalition supports the idea that young teenagers are less likely to be friends with someone who’s 21.

That makes getting someone to buy tobacco for them harder.

“It’s about creating a social change that can really drive tobacco use to the ground and help our youth from ever starting,” said McCoy.

He explained raising the age has proven that it can lower tobacco use.

The coalition is happy to see the idea become introduced at the state level.

It’s too late in the session to vote on the bill, but that was intentional.

“It has been introduced so we can start building up interest in it over the course of the summer and the winter and be ready to really tackle this issue next legislative cycle,” said McCoy.

The coalition expects this topic will soon be a statewide conversation.

Students are already stalking about it in Moorhead on college campuses.

McCoy worked with a group of students at Concordia who created a campaign in support of raising the age.

“Because they are actually the ones who this impacts the most,” he explained.

At MSUM, there are programs that educate students about the dangers of tobacco.

One student said the bill has the potential to encourage healthier life choices.

“A lot of students have their personal things,” said Jessica Colby, a wellness educator at MSUM. “I feel like there wouldn’t be much of an uproar, but there will be discussion, and I feel like people would want to get more educated.”

Hawaii and California are the only two states that have raised the age to 21.

Oregon passed a similar bill this March.

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