The St. Paul City Council unanimously approved the change to raise its tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21, which will take effect in November. This verdict is a continuation of the 2016 decision in which the city banned the sale of flavored tobacco product at most stores. The new law applies to all vaping products as well as all forms of traditional tobacco.
Many see this as a prudent move to decrease smoking and other tobacco usage among youth and potentially save lives. Ellie Beaver asserted that the ordinance will help prevent a vulnerable population from trying tobacco products. “I see how the tobacco industry targets St. Paul kids with flavored products and candy-like packaging,” Beaver said.
However, this new law hasn’t impressed everyone.
Tobacco retailer employee, Adam McColley, was among those who submitted contrasting arguments to St. Paul’s City Council. He wrote that “in this city, state and nation, we recognize 18 as the legal age of adulthood. An 18-year-old can join the military and risk life and limb fighting enemies abroad to protect citizens at home, but the St. Paul City Council wishes to prohibit that person from buying a pack of smokes at home.”
A previous, unfinalized version of the St. Paul law would have punished both those who bought and sold tobacco. The finished wording was amended to target only retailers.
St. Paul is the 53rd city in Minnesota to raise the buying age to 21.
As of May 2019, twenty-nine Minnesota communities have raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, including Duluth, Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Minnetonka, St. Paul and Minneapolis.