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Mendota Heights restricts sale of menthol, raises tobacco sales age to 21

November 20, 2018

When it comes to protecting youth from the harms of tobacco, the Mendota Heights City Council has been on top of its game in 2018. On Nov. 20, the council unanimously voted to raise the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 and to add menthol to the flavored tobacco restrictions it had already passed in May. Flavored tobacco, including menthol, can’t be sold by any retailer in Mendota Heights.

“This is the right thing to do right now,” council member Jay Miller said. “Tobacco products are far more discreet now.” Added council member Liz Petschel, “This is a rampant problem, and we’ve heard it from all our high schools. It doesn’t matter which one. By going to 21, this is what we are trying to affect.”

Sixty members of the community, including students, advocates, and a physician, filled the council chambers, while many spoke as well. Merry Grande, a Mendota Heights resident who works for the Minnesota Public Health Association, talked about the high number of youth who are now using e-cigarettes and commended the city council. “Thank you to the city for working to protect youth,” she said. “Local tobacco prevention policies like these protect youth from becoming addicted to these dangerous products and are especially needed in light of the 2018 National Youth Tobacco survey results released last week.”

According to the national survey, 1.5 million more middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2017. In Minnesota, youth e-cigarette use has increased nearly 50 percent in the past three years, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Nearly one in five High School students currently uses e-cigarettes, according to the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey.

“Raising the tobacco age to 21 will help prevent young people from getting hooked,” said Britney Meza, a junior at Henry Sibley High School, and a member of ALMAS. “They won’t be able to get cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, or other tobacco products from older high school students.”

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