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Edina Could Become 1st City in Minnesota to Raise Age Limit to Buy Tobacco Products

April 19, 2017 12:18 PM

On Wednesday, Edina City Council members listened to residents voice their concerns about a proposed ordinance that would raise the age requirement from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco-related products.

Several students from Edina High School, parents and medical professionals spoke at the meeting. They wore green t-shirts that read "Tobacco 21," which is a national campaign to raise the minimum tobacco buying age.

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Nina Sokol is a senior at Edina High School and a student commissioner on the community health commission. She said her grandmother started smoking as a student in high school and later died in her mid 50s from lung cancer.

"Perhaps if there were Tobacco 21 ordinances, she would still be alive," she said.

Sokol explained that she is concerned about the students at her school.

"In high school, if you are smoking, the only way to get your tobacco is from someone who is 18."

Dr. Caleb Schultz from the city's community health commission said the Tobacco 21 ordinance was introduced to city council members months ago.

RELATED: Edina Looks at Requiring Tobacco Buyers to be 21

"Tobacco 21 has been shown to work at the local level," he said. The products included in the ordinance are cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Some local business owners are against the Tobacco 21 ordinance, stating it would hurt and penalize their business. Mark Olsen, who is the manager of a gas station in Edina said the ordinance will cut an important amount of business from 18-, 19- and 20-year-old costumers.

"These young adult consumers are very mobile and they will simply drive a couple of miles to Richfield, Bloomington, South Minneapolis, St. Louis Park or Minnetonka to buy their gas, snacks and other beverages," he said.

Edina City Council members offered responses to the public comment. City Council Member Bob Stewart said he does not want to see city ordinances create a patchwork of different rules across the state.

"We do not want to have different rules and requirements from city to city," he said. "I had a softening of my viewpoint on this and now I am looking at it not as an issue of commerce but an issue of health. If we cannot be accountable to help improve the health in our own community then I think we do not belong here. I support this motion."

The second reading of the Tobacco 21 ordinance is set for the council's next meeting in May. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect 60 days after its adoption.

Credits

Cleo Greene

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