Minneapolis City Council unanimously raises age to buy tobacco to 21

Published: May. 26, 2018 at 9:48 AM CDT
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Minneapolis, the largest city in Minnesota, 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 it is on the forefront. With a unanimous vote, it is 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 cities in Minnesota — 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 tobacco somewhere else.

“Let’s get this thing done across the state of Minnesota,” said Councilmember Andrew Johnson.

Ordinances vary from city to city. Robbinsdale restricts only 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 except in tobacco shops.

This conversation comes in part from a 2017 study by the Minnesota Department of Health, which found tobacco use rose for the first time in 17 years.

This ordinance will become law in Minneapolis on Oct. 1.