ST. CLOUD, Minnesota-
Here in Minnesota the legal age to buy/smoke tobacco products is 18-years-old, except for the city of Edina where the legal age has been changed to 21-years-old. A CentraCare Health Foundation program called Crave the Change is looking to do the same here in the greater St. Cloud area. Meghan Bown, the director of Crave the Change, describes the program as,”it is an initiative of CentraCare that sits under Feeling Good Minnesota and what we do is tobacco prevention and policy to ensure health and wellness of our residents through tobacco prevention and resources for stopping tobacco use.”
Crave the Change’s main goal in raising the smoking age is, “Our goal is to decrease the opportunity for tobacco products to be in the hands of our youth. This policy is really set up to affect our 15 to 17-year-olds, statistics show those that don’t start before the age of 21 or even 18 are less likely to become addicted and become lifelong smokers. It’s those lifelong smokers that are seeing the medical and decreased life expectancy long term in their lives.”
The Possible Law Change is Not Advantageous to Everyone
For businesses such as smoke shops increasing the legal smoking age could mean a loss in business. Addie Alghanem, a local tobacco shop employee discussed how this change would affect their business, “Well, honestly, it’s going to affect our business a lot because so many of our customers are college students. I see it as a major effect on my business because a lot of people that smoke cigarettes or most of my customers tobacco pipes and stuff like that will be 18 to 25 to 30-years-old.”
Alghanem says he is not worried about those that are over the age of 21, but that it is the people that are 18-20 that come to the shop to try out new products when they are first coming to college.
Minnesota Would Not Be the First State to Change the Smoking Age
According to Bown, “California, Hawaii and more that 224 localities in the United States have raised the age to purchase tobacco to 21, including New York City, Boston, and Kansas City.” Joining California and Hawaii in a statewide increase in the tobacco purchasing age, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine will also be raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 by the end of 2018.
Bown says that Crave the Change and their local partners will continue conversation and education throughout St. Cloud and the surrounding area on this issue; not only with residents but with elected officials as well. She hopes that discussion on increasing the smoking age will continue during the upcoming legislative session.
To learn more about Crave the Change and their initiatives visit: