MINNEAPOLIS – The Minneapolis City Council will decide on whether to raise the city’s tobacco buying age to 21 on Friday, after unanimous approval by a council committee following a public hearing, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The measure would restrict the sale of tobacco products, including electronic cigarette and nicotine vaporize devices, to those 21 and older.
Owners of convenience stores oppose the ordinance. “[Smoking] is a human choice,” Khalid Haidari, who owns Pantry Food Market, told the committee. “Why do you want to take that choice away from people?” Haidari said the proposal is “another nail in our business coffin.”
“While some people say smoking is a choice, addiction itself is not a choice,” said Council Member Andrew Johnson, who co-authored the proposal with Council Member Jeremiah Ellison. “It’s a disease. … The easiest way to help people quit tobacco is to ensure that they never start in the first place.”
Meanwhile, with nearly 20 localities across the state already instituting a 21-and-older tobacco purchase age, New York legislators are once more pushing for a statewide smoking age of 21. Minnesota, Illinois, Washington and Rhode Island are considering bills to raise the state’s tobacco buying age to 21. California, Maine, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon all have 21 as the minimum tobacco buying and using age.