Sen. Nelson legislation would raise Minnesota smoking age to 21

Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) announced new legislation today – SF 2370 – that would decrease youth smoking by raising the sales age for tobacco products to 21.

“Raising the tobacco age will prevent young people from smoking and save money, as those young people grow up to live healthier lives,” said Sen. Nelson, a longtime supporter of tobacco prevention measures. “Smoking costs Minnesota about $7 billion annually in excess health care costs and lost productivity from smoking. Tobacco 21 will address this problem where it starts.”

According to Molly Moilanen, co-chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of more than 50 health organizations, “Almost 95 percent of adult smokers started by 21. That means to prevent addiction, we must keep people from starting before then. Raising the tobacco age will help do that.”

A national consensus is growing to prevent addictions and future health problems by raising the sales age for tobacco products to 21. Two states and more than 220 cities and counties throughout the United States have raised the tobacco age. Edina was the first city in Minnesota to raise the smoking age earlier this week.

  • Research shows that increasing the tobacco age in Minnesota would prevent 30,000 kids from becoming smokers over the next 15 years.
  • The tobacco industry heavily targets 18-to-21-year-olds with candy flavoring, magazine advertisements and event sponsorships.
  • 75 percent of adult Americans favor increasing the minimum purchase age for tobacco to 21.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Each year in Minnesota tobacco use is responsible for more than 6,300 deaths and more than $3 billion in preventable health care costs. 95 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21. The coalition supports policies that prevent initiation and reduce youth smoking, including keeping tobacco prices high, raising the tobacco sale age to 21, limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco and funding future tobacco prevention programs.

Partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Becker County Energize, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Comunidades Latinos Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Perham Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, Tobacco Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society, UCare and WellShare International.