Mounds View raises tobacco purchasing age

After a second reading and unanimous approval by the Mounds View City Council on Sept. 9, a new ordinance will soon take effect raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 throughout the city.

The new regulation will also include electronic cigarettes — commonly referred to as “vapes” or “e-cigarettes” — as well as all associated nicotine products. The council had its first reading of the ordinance on Aug. 26, following a June work session where elected officials discussed the issue at length.

While there were slight differences of opinion at the work session, the council unanimously approved both readings; the main item of discussion in June was whether or not to include any kind of restriction on the sale of flavored products, in addition to the age increase.

While traditional cigarette use continues to decline among young people, the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey reported a sharp increase in the prevalence of vaping. Much of the rationale given by the council for raising the purchasing age was to try and keep these often-flavored products out of the hands of high school students.

At the work session, council member Bill Bergeron pushed for a restriction of all flavored tobacco and nicotine products, excluding menthol, to adult-only stores. Meanwhile, council member Al Hull proposed increasing the purchasing age solely for e-cigarettes.

Council members Sherry Gunn and Gary Meehlhause, as well as Mayor Carol Mueller, all pushed to solely raise the age and to look at this amendment as a possible first step. Gunn and Mueller noted they would need more time to communicate with retailers before considering a flavor restriction.

Before the final vote, Mueller opened up the floor for those in the audience. One resident came forward to express her support, adding her voice to a number who spoke at the public hearing preceding the first reading.

“I want to thank the council for sticking by this matter and hearing us out. I know there’s been some very unfortunate news regarding long-term lung health after vaping that’s hit mass media in the last couple of weeks,” said resident Kasey Cable. 

E-cigarette use has made national headlines recently as six potentially vaping-related deaths have been reported across the U.S., in addition to nearly 400 cases of severe, likely vaping-related lung illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an exact cause of the outbreak has yet to be determined. All patients have a history of e-cigarette use, and many reported using electronic delivery devices to consume liquids containing marijuana.

While resident feedback at council meetings has been positive, Mueller noted that she had gotten one phone call from a resident in opposition to the new ordinance.

“I think part of his reasoning was if 18-year-olds are adult enough to vote, 18-year-olds are adult enough to care for their personal health and safety,” she said at the meeting.

Public notice of the ordinance was published in this edition of the paper and it will take effect in 30 days.

 

– Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825

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