The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a proposal that will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, tobacco-related devices, electronic delivery devices, and nicotine delivery devices from 18 to 21-years-old.
The increase is set to go into effect as of Jan. 1, 2019, according to a report by KVRR.com, though it won’t apply to everyone. Included is a grandfather clause that states that anyone who was born as of Dec. 31, 2000, making them 18-years-old when the increase goes into effect, will be able to continue purchase tobacco products.
The fines have also been modified; any person who sells to a person under 21-years-old will be subject to a fine of no less than $100 for the first offense, no less than $200 for the second offense, no less than $400 for a third offense and $750 each offense thereafter.
Minnesota has become a growing hotbed of cities passing Tobacco 21, though no county had passed an increase prior to Otter Tail. Diane Thorson, the county’s public health director, said that the county’s increase should be seen as a call to pass a statewide increase, which has already been introduced to the legislature. More than a dozen cities have already passed similar increases, including Minneapolis.
Otter Tail County is home to just over 58,000 residents. Its county seat, Fergus Falls, is located 175 miles northwest of Minneapolis.