Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Olmsted County is considering joining the growing list of local governments in Minnesota that have enacted ordinances that boost the legal age for purchasing tobacco products and e-cigarette to 21.

A public hearing has been scheduled before the Olmsted County Board on April 2nd concerning the proposed changes to the county's existing Tobacco Sales and Youth ordinance. Officials hope that by raising the legal age from the current 18 will make it more difficult for teenagers and young adults to obtain tobacco products.

Graham Briggs, Director of Olmsted County Public Health Services. “After decades of fighting to reduce harm from tobacco, a new threat is emerging in our youth and Olmsted is not exempt. We have a crisis developing in our schools with vaping and it is creating an entirely new generation of people addicted to nicotine. A change in the age for tobacco access is our best option to put a dent in this concerning trend.”

Briggs says tobacco kills over 150 Olmsted County residents and costs the county over $85 million each year. A press release on the proposed ordinance change also notes the U.S. Surgeon General recently declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic, due in part an unprecedented climb increase in vaping.

Bills introduced this year in the Minnesota legislature would enact the same limitations on tobacco and e-cigarette purchases statewide.

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