Fresh off the heels off Edina, Minn. becoming the first city in the state to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21-years-old, a state legislator has introduced a bill that would raise the minimum age statewide.
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, introduced SF 2370 on Thursday, which seeks the increase and would prohibit anyone under 21 from entering a retail tobacco shop. The bill also adds charter schools to places where the use of tobacco products would be prohibited, a move that updates existing legislation.
Fines for retailers who sell or otherwise furnish tobacco to a minor would go up significantly as well, with the fine for a first violation jumping from $75 to $250. A secondary violation within 24 months would increase from $200 to $500, while a third violation in that same time frame would jump from $250 to $1,000, with the possibility of revocation of the retailer’s license.
Someone outside of a retail store who provides tobacco to a person under 21 would still be subject to a $50 fine, and if a person knowingly lets a person under 21 use their driver’s license to purchase tobacco, they would face a suspension of that license for 90 days.
As for persons under 21 who attempt to purchase tobacco, the bill revises existing law to change the penalty from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor, and seeks to develop alternative penalties such as tobacco-free education, tobacco cessation programs, notice to schools, parents, community service, and other court diversion programs.
It is being co-authored by Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis; Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Bloomington; and Sen. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, though with the deadline for committees to act on bills having passed on March 31, no action is expected on the bill this session.