The Saint Louis Park City Council showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of its youth on July 17. The City Council voted 5-0 on the consent agenda to raise the sale age for all tobacco products to 21.

“It’s well-documented that people are more likely to develop a smoking habit if they start as teenagers,” Councilmember Sue Sanger said. “Raising the minimum age to 21 appears to be a very sensible and easy-to-enforce means to accomplish this.”

Saint Louis Park is the second city in Minnesota to raise the age to 21. It joins three  states – Hawaii, California and Oregon – and more than 230 municipalities in protecting youth by raising the sale age for tobacco to 21. In May, Edina became the first city in Minnesota to raise the age to 21.

More than 95 percent of current smokers started smoking before they turned 21. If youth don’t start smoking before the age of 21, they likely never will.  Needham, Mass., raised the tobacco age to 21 in 2005 and within five years, tobacco use among high school students decreased by nearly half.

“Sometimes cities need to lead, and I am proud my city was willing to take this important step,” said Matt Flory, resident and president-elect for the Minnesota Public Health Association. “This will prevent a new generation of kids from taking up a dangerous habit. I hope other communities will join us as we work toward a state law.”