St. Anthony has raised the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, and Golden Valley appears poised to do the same, bringing close to 50 the number of Minnesota jurisdictions — including Minneapolis and Hennepin County — that have passed similar ordinances.
The St. Anthony City Council unanimously passed its ordinance Tuesday. The Golden Valley council held a first reading last week of what's often called a "Tobacco 21" ordinance, also voting unanimously in favor of it; a final vote is scheduled for Tuesday.
And St. Paul is considering such an ordinance, with a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday and a City Council vote expected later this month.
The ordinances apply to the sale of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes. About a dozen jurisdictions also limit sales of flavored tobaccos to adult-only tobacco stores, removing them from convenience stores, gas stations and other places where teenagers shop, said Chris Turner, media and program specialist for the St. Paul-based Association for Nonsmokers-MN.
With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping, use of tobacco products among teenagers has jumped for the first time since 2000, according to a survey by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Since 2016, vaping rates among eighth-graders have risen from about 6% to 11%. More than one in four 11th-graders reported having used an e-cigarette within the past 30 days, up from less than 20% in 2016.
Conventional cigarette use, meanwhile, continues to decline among eighth-, ninth- and 11th-graders.
The survey found that young people are not well-informed about the health risks of e-cigarettes. More than three-fourths of 11th-graders thought they posed slight or moderate risk or no risk at all. The U.S. surgeon general has issued an advisory about e-cigarettes, warning that nicotine can harm adolescent brain development and that they may also contain other harmful chemicals.
Recent Mayo Clinic research suggests that the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries is from people inhaling toxic substances.
One in seven deaths in Hennepin County are tobacco-related, according to the state Health Department.
Tobacco 21 ordinances have increased in Minnesota since 2017, after an Edina doctor persuaded that city to raise the legal age, Turner said: "It's really snowballed in the past two years."
Other metro-area cities with such laws include Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Plymouth, Richfield, Robbinsdale and St. Louis Park. Hennepin County's ordinance covers cities in which the county regulates tobacco retail licenses; cities that issue their own licenses can keep the age at 18.
Mound, one of the cities covered by Hennepin County, in July considered taking over licensing and setting the legal age at 18. But after talking to local school officials about tobacco use among students, the City Council scrapped the plan.
Fourteen states have established statewide Tobacco 21 laws. The Minnesota Legislature considered Tobacco 21 legislation this year, but the bill did not pass in the Senate.