The community of North Oaks might be small, but it came up big when it comes to protecting its youth. North Oaks unanimously voted to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 on March 14.

“We’re a small community, but our neighboring communities, like Shoreview, started passing Tobacco 21, so we thought we’d make it illegal for kids here,” Mayor Gregg Nelson said. “It was easy to see vaping was designed to get kids and young adults involved.”

North Oaks is the 24th 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, Otter Tail, Pope and Beltrami Counties, Eden Prairie, Waseca and Duluth have taken this step.

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.

“It is great that North Oaks is putting the health of their kids first,” said Katie Engman, program director at the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota. “North Oaks is joining 23 other Minnesota communities in protecting its residents from the harms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes. This is a great step, and we hope many other cities and the state will follow.”