Youth Access to Tobacco

Minnesota's Youth Access Bill

Reducing youth access to tobacco products is a powerful tool for stemming the tobacco epidemic. With stricter access laws, fewer youth are able to buy cigarettes, become addicted and join a new generation of smokers. In 1997, the Minnesota Legislature passed a powerful bill to restrict youth access to tobacco. The new law requires annual compliance checks of tobacco vendors; sets a fine schedule for retailers who failed compliance; requires communities to establish a proactive program for youth who purchase and/or use tobacco and; requires the tobacco industry to disclose certain toxic ingredients in tobacco products.

Since the law was passed, communities around the state have adopted local ordinances and programs for youth tobacco violators, such as diversion programs. Youth Tobacco Diversion Programs redirect youth tobacco violators out of an over-crowded court system and into a classroom setting. Diversion programs focus less on punishing behavior; the goal is to critically examine the attitudes, assumptions and realities of tobacco use.

Model City Ordinance: After passage in 1997 of the Youth Access bill, a model city ordinance was developed by the League of Minnesota Cities in response to Minnesota communities request for guidance.


Consequences for Youth Tobacco Violators

One provision of the law is "...the licensing authority, along with other interested parties, shall develop alternative consequences for youth who purchase, possess and consume tobacco." 


This task has turned into quite a tangle for communities. What, exactly, are "alternative consequences?" Who are the "interested parties?" The goal of Teens and Tobacco - A Community Handbook is to help you answer these and other questions. It offers tobacco diversion as one alternative consequence for youth tobacco violators. However, it is up to each community to decide what works best for them. As no two communities are exactly alike, neither can this manual alone provide the perfect solution. It is our hope that you use this manual as a starting point.

Download Teens and Tobacco - A Community Handbook (PDF)


For More Information

The North Suburban Tobacco Compliance Check Program monitors youth access laws in northern Ramsey County. If you would like more information on compliance checks, cigarette vending machines, diversion programs, etc. please contact staff at the North Suburban Tobacco Compliance Check Program.

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Community Health Charities Minnesota  Charities Review Council