St. Louis Park City Council approves first reading of ordinance raising tobacco sales to age 21

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The St. Louis Park City Council, on a 6-1 vote at a June 26 special meeting, approved the first reading of an ordinance that raises the legal age to purchase tobacco and tobacco products in the city to 21 years of age.

Councilmember Steve Hallfin cast the lone vote against the ordinance.

The second reading of the ordinance, which also increases the penalties for businesses that sell tobacco products to minors, is set for July 17. The ordinance would take effect Oct. 1. St. Louis Park follows Edina in moving the age to purchase tobacco to 21 years of age.

The fines for violations by tobacco sale license-holders would increase, from $250 to $500 on the first violation, and from $500 to $1,000 on a second violation, under the proposed ordinance. The council unanimously approved an amendment to the ordinance that increases the license suspension from three days to 30 days for a third sale violation within three years. The police department conducts annual compliance checks of tobacco license-holders.

“I initiated this discussion because it so well documented that people are more likely to develop a smoking habit if they start as teenagers,” said Councilmember Sue Sanger. “Smoking contributes significantly to many health issues, both for the smoker and those around them. Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 is a very sensible and easy-to-enforce way to address this serious public health issue.”

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