As Tobacco Law Changes in St. Louis Park, Other Cities Look to Follow Suit

October 01, 2017 10:34 PM

St. Louis Park has become the second city in Minnesota to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.

The new ordinance went into effect Oct. 1 in the suburban city. Gas stations across town posted signs alerting customers to the change.

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Residents like Matt Flory lobbied to raise the age after watching students from his home in St. Louis Park.

RELATED: St. Louis Park Votes to Increase Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

"For years, I've seen groups of high school kids hanging out, smoking on the corner," Flory said. "It's right outside the window from where my 4- and 6-year-old like to go watch kids being dropped off."

Edina was the first city to pass an ordinance amending the purchasing age from 18 to 21. Advocates from the Association of Nonsmokers-Minnesota say the trend is picking up.

RELATED: Edina Raises Tobacco Purchasing Age to 21

"The goal ultimately is to protect kids regardless of what zip code they live in," said Kari Oldfield, legal and community outreach coordinator for the group.

Oldfield said the group is tracking public hearings and progress in Bloomington, Plymouth and Robbinsdale. According to publicly-posted city documents, the city of Chaska will also consider raising the minimum age.

The goal, according to Oldfield, is to take the momentum from smaller communities to the State Capitol.

RELATED: Edina Residents Fear Teens Will Bypass a New Rule to Cracking Down Youth Smoking

"It takes time, it takes a lot of cities doing this kind of thing for it to have a big effect and to happen at the state level," Oldfield said.

During the 2016 legislative session, republican Sen. Carla Nelson introduced a statewide change that would raise the legal tobacco use age to 21 from 18. The bill was not scheduled for any hearings, and Nelson said she didn't expect it would get any movement until 2018.

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Kirsten Swanson

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