St. Louis Park is poised to become the second city in Minnesota to raise the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21, following the footsteps of neighboring suburb Edina.
The City Council on Monday passed a first reading of an ordinance raising the sales age. If the second reading is approved July 17, the new restrictions would go into effect on Oct. 1.
The council first discussed raising the sales age during a May 15 study session.
“I initiated this discussion because it is so well-documented that people are more likely to develop a smoking habit if they start as teenagers,” Council Member Sue Sanger said.
Studies show that raising the age helps limit the availability of tobacco to youths, who usually get cigarettes from those under 21.
St. Louis Park has 23 tobacco license holders, according to the city. The proposed ordinance raises fines for vendors who violate the sales age from $250 to $500 for a first violation and from $500 to $1,000 for a second.
Council Member Steve Hallfin was the only one to vote against the ordinance.
“An 18-year-old is considered an adult and can be a property owner, get married and go to war,” Hallfin said. “I can’t see refusing to sell tobacco to them.”
The council on Monday also asked city staffers to draft an ordinance that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city.
In May, Edina became the first city in the state to raise the sales age from 18 to 21. The new law goes into effect July 1.
St. Louis Park’s decision seems to follow a pattern touted by Tobacco 21, a national campaign to raise the tobacco sales age. The organization believes that after one city raises the age, other neighboring cities will follow suit.
Bloomington officials also have expressed interest.