St. Cloud Could Become Third MN City to Raise Legal Tobacco Sales Age
St. Cloud may soon become the third Minnesota city to outlaw tobacco sales to anyone less than 21 years of age.
During a city council meeting Tuesday evening, St. Cloud representatives approved plans for a study session in October, followed by a public hearing for the possible ordinance in November.
If the ordinance is enacted, St. Cloud would join the ranks of Edina and St. Louis Park, both of which raised the age to buy tobacco products from 18 years old to 21 years old earlier this year.
“We did take a look at the Edina ordinance and we utilized language from the city of Edina,” said St. Cloud city administrator Matthew Staehling during the city council meeting Tuesday. “We incorporated it into the framework of our existing ordinance. So what you see is primarily our existing ordinance but it does include language that was utilized by the city of Edina.”
Staehling went on to call St. Cloud’s potential ordinance a “hybrid” of its existing law and that of Edina’s.
Specifically, the ordinance in its current form would ban the sale of tobacco to people under the age of 21, but wouldn’t stop them from using tobacco or buying it elsewhere, such as a neighboring city, St. Cloud mayor Dave Kleis told MPR.
Notably, Kleis does not support the city’s plan to change its tobacco sales law. Citing an 18-year-old’s right to vote and serve in the military, Kleis said they should have the same right to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products.
Entire states have taken a similar stance against tobacco access for young adults. So far, California and Hawaii have a 21-year minimum in place. New Jersey also passed a law for a 21-year minimum (set to go live in November), while Maine and Oregon each have 21-year minimum laws set to start next year.
As of September 13, over 260 localities nationwide have raised the legal sale age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.
Last May, shortly after Edina became the state’s first city to raise the age to buy tobacco to 21, Minnesota Senate representative Carla Nelson introduced a bill to take the measure statewide. The bill, however, arrived late in the legislative session and was not adopted.