Bills in Minnesota Legislature Aim to Help People Quit Smoking, Raise Tobacco-Buying Age to 21
Experts say more youth are smoking e-cigarettes and vaping as opposed to traditional cigarettes
MINNESOTA — Several bills in the Minnesota legislature are aiming to help people quit smoking and raise the age for buying tobacco to 21.
At first glance, some tobacco look like regular school supplies.
“Our health teachers went to college and vaping wasn’t part of the curriculum. They’re learning and they’re doing their best to answer questions that are right now,” Jason, McCoy, tobacco prevention coordinator at PartnerSHIP 4 Health, said.
Tobacco prevention group Clearway says traditional cigarette smoking is decreasing, while e–cigarettes and vaping are on the rise, especially with young people. E–cigarettes can be addictive and have nicotine in them.
They’ve become so common among youth that the U.S. Surgeon General calls it an epidemic.
“There’s a lot of information out there teens have grasped onto thinking this is safe. We don’t have a cigarette that might be smelly or something you might not want to pick up. Instead you have a product that tastes good, smells good, and you think is safe,” McCoy said.
McCoy says when the data for this year comes in, vaping among young people is likely to be as high as 1 in 2.
The Department of Health is working with the Department of Education to better educate students and parents.
In Moorhead, vaping is the number one reason for school suspensions.
“The tobacco industry is relentless,” Laura Smith, public affairs manager at Clearway Minnesota, said.
Smoke shops in Moorhead didn’t want to comment. Thirty-one cities and counties in Minnesota have already raised the age for buying tobacco to 21.
“We want to make sure everybody that wants to quit tobacco and smoking has the resources they need to quit this addiction,” Smith said.
Clearway says tobacco prevention efforts over the past two decades have prevented over four thousand cases of cancer and over thirty thousand hospitalizations.