Golden Valley Lawmaker Pushes Raising Tobacco Sales Age to 21
The age to buy tobacco products in Minnesota could change from 18 to 21. A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a proposal Thursday at the State Capitol to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.
Over the past couple years, five Minnesota cities, including Plymouth, raised the tobacco sales age to 21. Now, some members of the state legislature want to make ‘Tobacco 21’ a statewide law.
“So raising the age to 21 is just a logical thing to do,” said Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley. “It helps prevent our young people from smoking. It helps reduce death and disease from tobacco products and it helps reduce access of young people in high schools and elsewhere to deadly tobacco products.”
DFL Representative Mike Freiberg of Golden Valley is one of the co-sponsors of a bill that would make Minnesota the sixth state in the nation to have a Tobacco 21 law.
If passed, the law would also apply to e-cigarettes.
Supporters say this bill comes at an important time because youth tobacco use in Minnesota rose for the first time in 17 years, largely because of e-cigs.
Freiberg said he’s prepared for any potential push-back from business owners who say the law would cut into their profit margins.
“There often is [push-back] when you’re talking about public health measures,” he said. “I mean we certainly saw it ten years ago with the smoke-free laws, a lot of bars and some restaurants were worried that they would lose business if they were required to go smoke-free. Ultimately, cities and counties passed smoke-free ordinances and then the state passed a smoke-free law, and I don’t think the economic impact were as bad as some of the people were saying going into it. And I think Tobacco 21, we would see a similar effect.”
The bill would not penalize underage smokers, but rather, the people who provided the tobacco to anyone under age 21.
All of the details of the bill can be found at the Minnesota Legislature’s website