Minneapolis City Council passes Tobacco 21 ordinance

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed the ordinance, which restricts the purchase of tobacco products to people under the age of 21.

Helen Sabrowsky

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 on Friday. 

The ordinance — which is expected to go into effect Oct. 1 — was initiated by the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota, Northpoint Health and Wellness Center and the Minneapolis Youth Congress. 

“I think that this is a policy that is really going to work to make sure we’re a healthy city and that we protect our youth,” said Ward 5 Council member Jeremiah Ellison who co-authored of the ordinance.

Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant said she is proud of the advocacy work that helped pass the ordinance. 

“It’s a testament to the leadership of the young people who have continued to bring forth ideas and advocacy,” Musicant said.

Rob Crane, the founder and president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, said that his and other Tobacco 21 advocacy groups are now focusing on passing the policy at a state level. Crane said he hopes to keep the momentum going following the passing of this ordinance. 

Supporters of Tobacco 21 praised the policy. LaTrisha Vetaw, health policy and advocacy manager at Northpoint Health and Wellness Center and park board commissioner at large said the ordinance is a step forward for the city and would help prevent young people from taking up smoking.

“This policy just made sense to young people and they brought light to issues young people face with tobacco products,” Vetaw said. 

Earlier this month a Minneapolis City Council committee held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance. University student Mackenzie Jensen spoke out against the proposed policy at the meeting. 

Jensen said he began smoking cigarettes at 15 but switched to using e-cigarettes when he turned 18. He said e-cigarettes are a “healthier” alternative to traditional smoking and encouraged council members to oppose the ordinance. 

“I see e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking that can save lives,” said Jensen.