The Eden Prairie City Council took a big step toward protecting youth from the harms of tobacco when it voted 3-1 to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 on Dec. 4, 2018.

“When we talk about tobacco-related costs, we can just talk about the small profits loss to several businesses,” said council member Ron Case. “The real cost is the tremendous toll to families of kids who started to smoke.”

Eden Prairie is the 19th community 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, Roseville, Minnetonka, Excelsior, Lauderdale, Hermantown, Brooklyn Center, Mendota Heights and Otter Tail County have taken this step.

“I’m proud that you, our community leaders, are doing what it takes to protect our children from dangerous products right now,” said Eden Prairie resident Donna Shaked, in commending the city council. “I strongly believe one of the most effective ways to do it is by raising the legal tobacco sales age from 18 to 21. Our kids’ future depends on it.”

Many community members showed up in support of this life-saving ordinance. Several community members spoke during the public hearing a couple of weeks ago and again Tuesday night. They urged the council to support the ordinance to prevent another generation from picking up a lifelong deadly addiction.

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.