The central Minnesota city of Pequot Lakes is the latest to join the Tobacco 21 movement, as city leaders approved an ordinance increasing the tobacco purchasing age to 21-years-old, bringing the city into compliance with the federal age and becoming the first municipality in Crow Wing County to approve such an increase.
While the federal law was increased in December, enforcement was being left up to local law enforcement, which in many cases were often left unable to enforce the law since their municipality’s ordinances had not yet been updated. In the case of Pequot Lakes, it was the city’s police chief, Eric Klang, who requested that the city make the change.
The increase went into effect immediately upon publication of its passage, as required by city law. It comes as the state legislature is currently considering a bill that would raise the age statewide.
In addition, the city added a new section to its laws that prohibits the smoking of any tobacco product or electronic cigarette within any indoor section of a retail shop, as well as placing a ban on direct access to tobacco product by consumers, meaning they must obtain such products through a retail employee. The ordinance also adds new requirements for child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine products, while updating penalties for individuals selling to persons under 21 and such persons attempting to buy tobacco products.
To enforce the new law, the city council also increased the number of compliance checks from one to two per year for each licensed tobacco retailer.
Pequot Lakes is located approximately 145 miles northwest of Minneapolis and is home to an estimated 2,300 residents.