MDH: Research Shows Raising Tobacco Sales Age Could Combat Rising Use among State's Youth

MDH: Research Shows Raising Tobacco Sales Age Could Combat Rising Use among State's Youth Photo: KSTP

March 13, 2018 05:11 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is touting the benefits of recently-proposed legislation to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.

According to the MDH, research indicates raising the age to 21 would limit access to tobacco products at a time when critical brain development is occurring and, in some cases, prevent youth from even starting to use those products.


Last week, state lawmakers introduced a bill that would raise the tobacco sales age.

RELATED: Minnesota Bill Would Raise Smoking Age to 21 Statewide

If it passes, the state would be the sixth in the nation to increase its smoking age.

Last month, the MDH issued a report stating tobacco use is rising among Minnesota youth for the first time since 2000.

RELATED: Survey Shows Tobacco Use Increasing Among Youth

According to the department, a survey measured the use of eight types of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless products (such as chewing tobacco) among those in sixth through 12th grades.

Of 100 public schools and classrooms randomly selected across the state, 70 participated in the study and 4,112 students were surveyed.

RELATED: Duluth, Mankato Latest Cities to Take Up Tobacco Product Debate

According to the MDH, survey results indicated 26.4 percent of high school students in Minnesota used some form of tobacco or nicotine in 2017, which is a 1.8 percent increase from 2014, when the data was last collected. Meanwhile, 5.2 percent of middle school students used some form of tobacco or nicotine, which is a 0.3 percent drop from 2014.

In comparison, nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 20.2 percent of high schoolers and 7.2 percent of middle schoolers used tobacco products in 2016.

In terms of type of tobacco product most typically used, the results indicated one in five high schoolers use e-cigarettes, which is a 50 percent increase since 2014. In contrast, the report stated cigarette smoking has decreased 70 percent since 2000.

What's a takeaway from the study?

The report highlights e-cigarette use is on the rise among Minnesota's youth. According to the CDC, while additional research is needed to understand the long-term health effects of smoking e-cigarettes, research has indicated "e-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products."

E-cigarettes contain nicotine which both the MDH and CDC report harms brain development, meaning learning, memory and attention capabilities can be adversely affected.

Additionally, the MDH, citing a research study published this year, reports youth who have tried e-cigarettes are twice as likely to smoke other tobacco products in the future.

The MDH's full report, including links to survey highlights, can be found here.


Rebecca Omastiak

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