St. Louis Park May Become Second MN City to Raise Age to Buy Tobacco
St. Louis Park appears poised to follow neighboring Edina’s footsteps, potentially becoming the second city in Minnesota to increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.
After a special meeting Monday night in which St. Louis Park city councilmembers approved the ordinance (with six votes “for” and one “against”), a second reading of the ordinance was scheduled for July 17. Should the ordinance pass, it would go into effect in October.
Councilmember Susan Sanger and others on the council first considered the measure during a study session on May 15—about two weeks after Edina passed its own age limitation on tobacco sales.
“I initiated this discussion because it so well documented that people are more likely to develop a smoking habit if they start as teenagers,” Sanger said in a statement. “Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 is a very sensible and easy-to-enforce way to address this serious public health issue.”
If the ordinance passes as is, all of the city’s 23 tobacco license holders would be subject to fines of $250 to $500 for their first violation of selling cigarettes or other tobacco products to a minor. A second offence would result in a $500 to $1,000 fine, while a third violation within three years would suspend the seller’s tobacco license for 30 days.
Not all of St. Louis Park’s councilmembers are on board with the proposed change of law, however.
“I abhor tobacco products, but this ordinance is misguided,” Councilmember Steve Hallfin said in prepared remarks. “An 18 year old is considered an adult and can be a property owner, get married and go to war — I can’t see refusing to sell tobacco to them.”
Meanwhile, Edina’s own restriction is about to go into effect. Tobacco-related products, including smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, won’t be legally available to those under 21 starting July 1.