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On May 16, 2020 Governor Tim Walz signed legislation raising the age to purchase tobacco products in Minnesota to 21.

It might not seem like a huge change, but according to an article on the website, increasing the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21 will make a huge difference in curbing the number of future smokers and chewers.

Studies have shown that people who avoid nicotine products until the age of 21 are far less likely to become addicted than those just a few years younger.  In a report by the National Academy of Medicine, raising the legal age to 21 will have a substantial positive impact on public health and save lives.

The ages 18 to 21 are a crucial demographic for tobacco companies, as it is the perfect time to get people hooked. This is because adolescent brains are still developing, making them more susceptible to the addictive effects of nicotine. In fact, 95% of adult smokers/chewers start before the age of 21. For that reason, tobacco companies intentionally market to children to create “replacement smokers.”

Additionally, research has shown that older classmates and friends are more likely to be a source of cigarettes for younger kids. Raising the legal age to 21 is likely to reduce the opportunity for high school students to get tobacco products from other students.

Every day, hundreds of kids under the age of 18 become regular smokers.  About a third of those will die as a result. Increasing the age to legally buy tobacco products should go a long way in preventing young people from using them, and ultimately, save many lives.

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