Plymouth Prioritizes the Health of Kids Over Big Tobacco Profits

City Council votes to raise minimum tobacco sale age to 21

Minneapolis, MN (11/28/17) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of more than 50 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, thanks the Plymouth City Council for voting tonight to put kids above tobacco industry profits by raising the minimum tobacco sale age to 21.

Momentum toward increasing the tobacco age to 21 is building in Minnesota and nationally. Tonight’s vote brings the total number of Minnesota communities that have raised the age up to four. Plymouth joins Edina, St. Louis Park and Bloomington among Tobacco 21 communities, with others around the state considering similar moves. So far, five states and more than 270 communities across the country have raised the tobacco age to 21. Public support for raising the age is strong: A 2015 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that three out of four American adults support the move. 

“Plymouth city leaders took bold action to prevent young people from ever getting hooked on tobacco products. The City Council showed true leadership, making a decision in the best interest of their constituents, and not bowing to tobacco industry pressure,” said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota and co-chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition. “Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a life-saving policy. It will help keep more of today’s young people from suffering the addiction, disease and premature death caused by tobacco.”

Local parents, youth advocates, medical professionals, employers and public health experts asked the Council to support raising the tobacco age to 21 during the public hearing. A few of their comments:

"Employers like us in Minnesota have 15 to 19 percent of employees who are addicted to nicotine," said Joel Spoonheim, Director of Health Promotion at HealthPartners. "Let me restate that: Tonight you are being pushed to worry about 2 percent of tobacco sales for retailers when I’m here to talk about the impact on nearly a fifth of our employee base, which is for most employers their largest cost."

Robbinsdale High School sophomore Sara Schiff also emphasized the high cost of tobacco use. "Too many of my friends and their families have lost someone because of tobacco use,” said Schiff. “Big Tobacco spends so much money and time trying to get young people like me to use their deadly products."

Dr. Lisa Mattson, a local physician and parent, pointed out that e-cigarettes have become the most popular tobacco product for Minnesota youth. "High schoolers are now vaping at a rate more than double that of conventional cigarettes. For that reason, I applaud the Council’s decision to include e-cigarettes in this ordinance,” said Mattson.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation supports policies that reduce youth smoking and help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use, including raising the tobacco age to 21, limiting youth access to menthol-, candy- and fruit- flavored tobacco, keeping tobacco prices high and funding tobacco control programs.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Becker County Energize, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Essentia Health, Four Corners Partnership, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Horizon Public Health, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Perham Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Tobacco Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society, UCare and WellShare International.

Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org.

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  • Outline of Minnesota

    Our Mission

    Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Each year in Minnesota tobacco use is responsible for more than 6,300 deaths and more than $3 billion in preventable health care costs and 95 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21. The coalition supports policies that reduce youth smoking, including keeping tobacco prices high, raising the tobacco sale age to 21, limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco and funding future tobacco prevention programs.

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