Lauderdale ups tobacco purchase age

Arden Hills takes look at age increase this month​

The Lauderdale City Council voted last month to raise the tobacco sales age in the community from 18 to 21, joining more than a dozen Minnesota cities in doing so.

The council voted Oct. 23 to raise the age as well as to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products after receiving lots of public support for the move at its meeting two weeks prior.

Advocates for increasing the purchase age — it’s a part of a campaign called Tobacco 21 — say it effectively takes tobacco products out of high schools by distancing potentially underage users from peers who are of age to buy. The thinking goes that 15-year-olds are far less likely to know someone who is 21, as opposed to a high school senior who’s 18.

Impetus for cities to make the change to 21 as the tobacco purchase age has come from a Minnesota Department of Health tobacco use study released in March.

The study said that as of 2017, for the first time since 2000 state high-schoolers reported an increase in tobacco use, a change driven by the popularity of e-cigarettes. Last year, 26 percent of high school students said they’d used tobacco in the past 30 days, a 7 percent increase from 2014.

That increase in use, as reported by the study, is driven by teens choosing e-cigarettes, a trend described to the Lauderdale City Council and to other north suburban councils that also have made the age change. High school students have described peers using e-cigs at school, even during class.

Lauderdale followed other cities in restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products on the basis that things like grape- or kiwi-flavored cigars are largely marketed toward kids.

Lauderdale council member Roxanne Grove raised the topic to the council, and prior to the vote, council members thanked her for bringing it to the body’s attention.

Lauderdale made the age change as an ordinance amendment, and the city gave its two Larpenteur Avenue tobacco retailers plenty of time to adjust; 21 becomes the tobacco purchase age in the city as of Feb. 1, 2019.

The small community will become part of a patchwork of cities in the metro that’s adopted the change; Minneapolis has done so, as have Falcon Heights, Shoreview and Roseville, as well as Bloomington, Richfield and Edina.

Roseville’s age change took effect July 18, and City Manager Pat Trudgeon said the switchover went smoothly on the basis of a lack of complaints from the city’s 28-or-so licensed tobacco sellers.

Another north suburban community is poised to take up the Tobacco 21 question. Arden Hills has a public hearing scheduled on the matter during its Nov. 13 city council meeting, and the council could vote on changing the city’s tobacco purchase age at a future meeting.


—Mike Munzenrider

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