You Need to be 21 to Buy Tobacco in Edina Now

A unanimous city council decision means teens will have to shop elsewhere for tobacco.

EDINA, Minn. – A unanimous 5-0 vote by the Edina City Council changed city ordinances to raise the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 within the city.

Under the rule people will not be able to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or other tobacco products until they reach 21 years of age, reports KSTP.

Edina is the first city in Minnesota to institute such a rule, which will go into effect July 1. According to Tobacco 21, a campaign dedicated to raising the tobacco and nicotine purchasing age across the U.S. to 21, over 220 cities across 16 states have instituted similar ordinances. In 2016 Hawaii and California both implemented statewide laws to the same effect.

“I think it’s a good idea in theory, unless every community does it they’ll just go out to the next community to purchase the cigarettes and bring them back,” Edina resident Chris Rutherford told KSTP.

City business owners are critical of the ordinance reports WDIO. They, like Rutherford, fear teens will go to other towns seeking tobacco products, costing them business.

Advocates of the ordinance remain hopeful other towns, or even the state as a whole, will follow Edina’s lead. They cite Minnesota’s statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants as an example of one town’s policy change snowballing to a statewide policy change. Mike Sheldon of Clearway Minnesota, is particularly optimistic in this regard.

“This may create some momentum for other communities to do the same thing,” Sheldon said of Edina’s ordinance in an interview with WDIO. “We did see this play out similarly with the statewide smoke free law where there were smaller communities that started passing these smoke free laws and eventually it grew to counties and bigger cities.”

Nearly 90 percent of smokers start smoking prior to turning 18 according to the Center for Disease Control. Edina is hoping that raising the purchasing age on tobacco products will stop the flow of such products from 18 year-olds to their younger friends.

“I think it would help a little bit of course,” Rutherford told KSTP, “You know what they say about prohibition people are going to do what they want regardless.”

Anders Koskinen