ROCHESTER, Minn. - Efforts in communities across Minnesota, including Austin, Albert Lea and Olmsted County, are raising the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. Now, a bill in the Minnesota legislature could raise the age across the entire state.
The impact of tobacco hits close to home for Joseph Legat.
“My wife, who I met when we were juniors in high school, died after 20 years of smoking cigarettes,” said Legat.
Legat is from Illinois and tells KIMT when he was young, they didn't know the dangers of cigarettes.
“Back in the 50's you were considered a nerd if you didn't smoke,” he said.
It's no longer just the box of cigarettes - it's e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
Anya Dudzik believes big tobacco companies are doing all they can to get kids hooked.
“I didn't smoke myself, I never trusted tobacco companies ... never. And we know they lied before and they'll lie again and lie at this moment,” Said Dudzik.
Olmsted County is joining other communities including Albert Lea and Austin in raising the tobacco purchase age to 21.
Aware of the trend, state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would make Minnesota a tobacco 21 state, like New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts.
“Unfortunately, Minnesota is along the same trend line is the rest of the nation, especially among youth and young adults when it comes to e-cigarettes,” said Michael Sheldon, Director of Marketing for Clearway Minnesota.
The ordinance in Olmsted County will go into effect July 1st.