St. Louis Park Becomes Second MN City to Raise Age to Buy Tobacco
During a meeting Monday evening, members of St. Louis Park’s City Council ruled in favor of raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the city from 18 to 21.
By passing the ordinance, which takes effect October 1, St. Louis Park will become the second city in Minnesota to enact such a measure. Neighboring Edina was the first to do so last May.
St. Louis Park councilmembers voted 5 to 0 on the ordinance. Mayor Jake Spano and Councilmember Tim Brausen were not present at the meeting and therefore did not vote.
A first reading of the ordinance took place at the end of June. It ended in a 6 to 1 vote with councilmember Steve Hallfin acting as the sole dissenter. Noting his abhorrence toward tobacco products, Hallfin nevertheless felt the ordinance was “misguided.”
“An 18 year old is considered an adult and can be a property owner, get married and go to war,” he said after the June meeting.” I can’t see refusing to sell tobacco to them.”
However, Hallfin voted in favor of the ordinance during Monday’s meeting.
In addition, shops in St. Louis Park that sell tobacco products to a minor will receive a harsher punishment starting October 1. Bundled with the age raise was an increase in fines for those who violate the ordinance.
Instead of paying $250 for a first offence, tobacco license holders will be charged $500. The fine for a second offence was also doubled from $500 to $1,000.
A third offense in three years would result in a license suspension, as the law was before. But the ordinance extended the suspension from three days to 30.
Proponents of raising the age to buy tobacco have urged Minnesota representatives to institute the measure statewide, similar to laws passed in California and Hawaii. Toward the end of this year’s legislative session, Senator Carla Nelson, a Republican from Rochester, introduced a bill at the State Capitol that called for such a move.
The bill, however, did not have enough support to pass. One of the people against the bill was Governor Mark Dayton. In a statement, he said, “I support the goal of reducing smoking by young Minnesotans. However, people who are 18, 19, and 20 years old are legally adults, who should generally be allowed to make the same personal decisions as older adults.”