Minnetonka jointed the momentum to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.
It became the latest city in the Metro when the City Council unanimously voted to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 on Sept. 17.
“This is one of the easiest votes I’ve cast,” council member Tim Bergstedt said. “We are making a decision that will change lives.”
Minnetonka is the 12th city in Minnesota to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. Edina, Saint Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth, North Mankato, Falcon Heights, Shoreview, Minneapolis, Saint Peter, Richfield and Roseville have also raised the tobacco sales age to 21.
Jerry Levine, a resident and advocate, said during a July 23 hearing, “I understand that we have made progress on preventing people from smoking cigarettes, but the tobacco industry is clever. New products like e-cigarettes are addicting the next generation, and thus youth tobacco rates are rising. We can’t let this happen here in our community.”
Many community members showed up in support of this life-saving ordinance. Several community members and students shared stories of personal loss from tobacco use and nicotine addiction. They urged the council to support the ordinance to prevent another generation from suffering the same fate.
Hopkins High senior Kaitlyn Ziegler spoke about the prevalence of vaping among her classmates.
“It has become a part of school culture to vape at events and on social media,” Ziegler said.
Said council member Patty Acomb, “I’m proud of the young people advocating on behalf of themselves and their peers.”
Youth e-cigarette use has increased nearly 50 percent in the past three years, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Nearly one in five Minnesota High School students currently uses e-cigarettes, according to the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey. One brand of electronic cigarette, JUUL, is particularly concerning, said Kristen Ackert, a public health advocate.
“The JUUL delivers nicotine more quickly, more effectively and at higher doses than other e-cigarettes,” Ackert said. “All of that increases the risk of addiction. No amount of nicotine is safe for young people.”
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cracked down on JUUL and other top e-cigarette makers because they market to youth.