St. Louis Park on Monday became the second city in Minnesota to approve raising the age at which people can buy tobacco from 18 to 21.
The City Council passed the measure on a 5-0 vote as part of its consent agenda. Mayor Jake Spano and Council Member Tim Brausen were not present.
The ordinance will go into effect Oct. 1.
It increases the fines for tobacco vendors who sell to underage buyers from $250 to $500 for an initial violation and from $500 to $1,000 for a second. On a third violation in three years, the city would revoke a vendor’s license for 30 days.
“Sometimes cities need to lead, and I am proud my city was willing to take this important step,” said Matt Flory, president-elect of the Minnesota Public Health Association and a St. Louis Park resident. “This will prevent a new generation of kids from taking up a dangerous habit.”
St. Louis Park’s approval is the latest development in a growing movement to restrict the sale of tobacco in Minnesota.
Edina first voted to raise the sales age from 18 to 21 in May. North Mankato and Mankato leaders are currently negotiating a proposal to raise the age, and Bloomington City Manager Jamie Verbrugge has mentioned that his city was interested as well.
Meanwhile, some Minneapolis leaders are looking to limit the sale of menthol cigarettes to adult-only tobacco shops. The city already restricts the sale of flavored tobacco products, something St. Louis Park is trying to do citywide.
Studies show that raising the sales age to 21 means children under 18 are less likely to have access to tobacco and therefore less likely to pick up the smoking habit.
“The underlying rationale was that this is really a public health issue,” Spano said late last month.
A proposal to raise the sales age statewide was introduced late in the legislative session. Gov. Mark Dayton was wary about the move.
“There doesn’t appear to be any interest to move on this at the state level,” Spano said. “It’s something we would like to see our county commissioners look at.”