A few years ago, a Mayo Clinic child and adolescent psychiatrist told the Minnesota Senate that 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 18.
He also told the lawmakers that teenagers who start smoking are likely to keep smoking, and will almost surely have trouble quitting down the road.
A new law that takes effect Saturday will give our young people a few more years to make the right choices about tobacco use
That law will change statewide the tobacco sale age to 21, and it’s about time. It follows federal action to change the law, as well as action taken by many Minnesota cities and counties to do the same.
We’re happy the Legislature took action finally to raise the legal age to buy tobacco statewide.
Thankfully, Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation didn’t quit pushing for the change. It’s a coalition of more than 60 organizations that share a common goal of reducing youth tobacco use and ending commercial tobacco’s harm for good. The coalition is united behind four major policies that reduce youth smoking and nicotine addiction, including raising the tobacco sale age to 21, increasing tobacco prices, prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products and investing in tobacco prevention programs.
Under the law that takes effect Saturday, we’ve given our young people three more years to figure out the fun about smoking is no way worth the costs, health-wise, monetarily and otherwise.
And in those three years, it’s likely that additional maturity and wisdom, as well as life experiences, will help them to make better decisions about tobacco use, and a lot of other things that will come their way.
And locally, kudos to KAPE, Koochiching Area Prevention in Education Coalition, which has continued to remind us of the role tobacco use among our youth can play in their success as adults.