Calls for Minnesota to Pass Tobacco 21 Law

Calls for Minnesota to Pass Tobacco 21 Law

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 50 organizations working to prevent youth smoking, is calling for the US state to pass the law restricting the sale of tobacco age to 21.

Researchers from ClearWay Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health released an article in the most recent edition of Minnesota Medicine concluding that raising the state’s tobacco age to 21 would have important health benefits. Their calculations suggest raising the age would prevent thousands of Minnesota kids from becoming smokers in the next 15 years.

“Two states and more than 200 cities across the country have raised the tobacco age to 21,” said Dr. Raymond Boyle, Director of Research Programs at ClearWay Minnesota. “The data we lay out in this article provide compelling proof that such a policy would have an enormous health benefit in Minnesota.”

The article, “Raising the Minimum Legal Sale Age for Tobacco to 21,” was published in the January-February issue of Minnesota Medicine. It is the first of its kind to flesh out the specific statewide impact that raising the tobacco sale age would have on the smoking behaviour of adolescents and young adults.

Specifically, if Minnesota raised the legal sale age to 21:

  • 25% fewer 15-year-olds would start smoking by the time they turn 18;
  • 15% fewer 18-year-olds would start smoking by the time they turn 21;
  • and this translates into 30,000 young people not becoming smokers in the next 15 years.

David Agerter, M.D., President of the Minnesota Medical Association said: “The root of the smoking problem is new smokers starting…Making tobacco products accessible only to adults over 21 widens the gap between kids and those who can be sold cigarettes. This research confirms this is a new way to prevent kids from starting.”

“The tobacco industry actively recruits replacement smokers to ensure their profits,” continued Dr. Agerter. “The Minnesota Legislature can ensure our state remains a leader in protecting kids and keeping them healthy by passing Tobacco 21.”

“Minnesota’s comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention and treatment – including strong policies – has contributed to significantly less smoking in recent years,” said Boyle. “But this research shows that raising the tobacco age to 21 would prevent future generations of young people from starting and help to end the burden of cigarette smoking.”

(Source: Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation & ClearWay Minnesota)