The purchasing age for tobacco products in Minnesota will soon increase from 18 to 21 after bipartisan legislation to raise the age limit passed the Minnesota Senate on Wednesday.
The Senate vote sends the bill to Gov. Tim Walz after the Minnesota House advanced similar legislation on Saturday.
The new age limit brings the state in line with recently enacted federal law and would also apply to chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping products. On Wednesday, the Senate advanced the bill, 43-21, after more than 90 minutes of debate that included unsuccessful amendments that would have criminalized underage tobacco use and let military veterans older than 18 still purchase tobacco.
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said about 75 local communities have already raised the tobacco purchase age to 21. Sen. Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth, said his hometown and Minnetonka were among those communities.
“We need to do everything we can to reduce and eliminate youth smoking and try and really push for a healthier stable workforce, a stable community, a stable state so we’re not dealing with these tragedies of the health care system that’s caused and the problems with smoking,” Anderson said.
The bill had the backing of groups like the American Cancer Society, whose local affiliate tweeted out thanks in real time to lawmakers who voiced support ahead of Wednesday’s Senate floor vote.
“This bill will prevent MN kids from becoming addicted to tobacco and reduce tobacco-related cancers in our state,” the group wrote on Twitter after the bill passed.