Olmsted County voted to establish a county ordinance that will prohibit sale of tobacco and nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21. The County Board passed the ordinance with four commissioners in support and three commissioners opposed. The ordinance will go into effect July 1, 2019.
Restricting the sale of nicotine and tobacco products started in the fall of 2017 when Edina, Minnesota, first passed a city ordinance. In 2018 the Zumbro Valley Medical Society presented information to the Public Health Advisory Board on the health risks caused by nicotine and tobacco. In fall and winter 2018-2019 Public Health started to study the issue. They hosted about 40 community sessions presenting information and gathering comments from the public. At the March 19 county board meeting, public health presented their findings to the board and supported restricting the sale of nicotine and tobacco products to people under age 21.
I voted to support the ordinance for the following reasons:
- Tobacco related illnesses cost $554/person in Olmsted County (about $85 million).
- 21 Communities in Minnesota have set the age when a person can buy tobacco to age 21
- 70% of current smokers support raising the age to buy tobacco to 21
- The data shows that nicotine addiction starts for a vast majority of people at age 12-14. Increasing the age to buy nicotine products will help prevent pre-teen and early teenagers from obtaining the products.
- The Rochester and Stewartville Public Schools support the ordinance.
- In cities that have restricted the sale of nicotine products, the numbers of young people using tobacco has fallen.
- Nicotine and tobacco products pose serious health concerns that are related to health care costs and insurance rates. If nicotine addiction is reduced it will have a positive effect on insurance rates.
- The military has supported banning the sale of nicotine and tobacco products to people under age 21.
- It is clear that producers of tobacco and nicotine products have targeted young people. Tobacco use by young people was on the decline but with new vaping products, nicotine and tobacco product sales are increasing among teenagers.
- Nicotine and tobacco education is not enough to stem the nicotine addiction of young people.