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Tobacco 21 bill continues to be considered at State Capitol

May 17, 2019 07:34 PM

There are now 34 Minnesota cities and counties that have raised their tobacco or e-cigarette sale age to 21. 

City Councils in Lilydale and Mankato recently passed their Tobacco 21 laws.

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KSTP spoke with some authors of the bill, which is still up for debate during this legislative session.

"The surgeon general has declared e-cigs an epidemic," said Sen. Carla Nelson, (R) Rochester. "It is a crisis. It is an epidemic among our youth and we have the ability to change that direction."

RELATED: Mankato, Lilydale raise tobacco age to 21

Other state leaders are optimistic about the change.

"We've seen a lot of youth come to the Capitol this session. They've testified," said Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL) Edina. "They want us to protect them against tobacco companies and I think that it is upon us as a state ... that we can do this. So I'm hopeful we can do it this year."

Laura Smith with ClearWay Minnesota addressed the issue as a major priority for state legislators. 

"It's a top priority because we know nearly 95% of addicted adult smokers started before they were 21. So if we can stop kids from starting to use tobacco products, we can really interrupt that cycle of addiction and prevent future death and disease and save lives," she said.

Right now, the Tobacco 21 bill is in a conference committee at the state Capitol. Thirteen other states have passed it.

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