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Olmsted County joins conversation of raising age to buy tobacco to 21

Public health officials say it would help put a dent in the concerning trend of vaping and e-cigarettes.

Posted: Mar 6, 2019 8:59 PM

OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. – It’s a discussion that’s happening in many of our communities: “At what age should someone be able to purchase tobacco products?”

It was way back in 1987 that the federal government raised the minimum age for tobacco use from 16 to 18 years old.

Now, public health officials in Olmsted County are proposing the age to buy tobacco be increased from 18 to 21.

The proposal comes at a time when teens are experimenting with new products like e-cigarettes.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams is letting it be known e-cigarettes and vaping is becoming a concerning trend.

"I am officially declaring e-cigarettes among youth an epidemic in the United States,” Adams said back in December.

Some think the proposal would help put a dent in the issue.

"Raising the age in my opinion is a step in the right direction,” Alyssa Cerna, of Phoenix, AZ, said. “A lot of people my age do not smoke cigarettes and they're very turned off of the idea of cigarettes in general because of the tobacco, but I think companies are now gearing their I guess sales towards e-cigarettes because teens will use them.”

Others don’t want to see more laws against it.

“We let young adults go to war at 18, you know puts guns in their hands and the whole bit,” Sam Hurne, of Rochester, said. “So I don't think raising the age to 21 is appropriate.”

At the same time, people aren’t sure how much help it will be.

“There's always loopholes, people are going to smoke if they want to,” Cerna said.

The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners is holding a public hearing about the proposed change on Tues., April 2. It starts at 9:00 a.m. at the Government Center.

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