From: Sen. Jeremy Miller
R - Winona
Over the past several months, there have been multiple reports about the harmful effects of vaping and electronic cigarettes on our youth. Recently, the Surgeon General described the exponential growth of youth e-cigarette use in the United States as an “epidemic.” Several states have taken various approaches to address these concerns and mitigate the harmful effects the devices have on children. President Trump and many members of the Senate and House of Representatives have also expressed serious concerns.
Some of the proposals mentioned at the state and/or federal level include: limiting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and electronic smoking devices, increasing funding for consumer warnings, and raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 (Tobacco 21). Seemingly, each proposal has been met with challenges along the way and there hasn’t been any official action from the federal government or the state of Minnesota to help shape a uniform standard. The most prevalent example of those challenges would be if Tobacco 21 were to pass, individuals who enlist in the military at the age of 18, would no longer be able to purchase tobacco products until they are 21.
In 2017, for the first time in 17 years, youth tobacco use increased in Minnesota, and continues to rise. Studies have shown over 26 percent of Minnesota high school students use tobacco and vaping products.
Under current law, our state allows local governments the option to enact the Tobacco 21 law to regulate the sale and use of tobacco products in their communities. Currently, there are 52 Minnesota cities and counties that have enacted a local Tobacco 21 policy, representing over 26 percent of the state’s population. By enacting a Tobacco 21 law, research predicts smoking initiation among 15-17 year-olds to drop by at least 25 percent.
Given the recent increase in tobacco use among our youth, and the very serious health complications associated with vaping and electronic tobacco devices, I’m looking for input from constituents in Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties regarding the passage of Tobacco 21 at the state level.
Can you please help by answering the following two questions:
1. Do you support enacting a statewide Tobacco 21 policy (this would raise the age to purchase tobacco/vaping products from 18 to 21 years of age)?
2. Do you support enacting a statewide Tobacco 21 policy that includes a military exemption for those serving in our armed forces (this would raise the age to purchase tobacco/vaping products from 18 to 21 years of age — except for those serving in the military)?
I would appreciate any feedback or concerns you would like to share on how vaping and electronic cigarette use has effected the youth in our community.