HERMANTOWN, MN– Hermantown is looking to lead the way for Northern Minnesota cities when it comes to banning all tobacco related products for people under the age 21.
The effort is called ‘Tobacco 21.’
According to the American Lung Association, 26% of 11th graders in Hermantown Public School District use or have used tobacco products in the past 30 days, which is above the state average of 22%.
During one of two public forums Monday night, people on both sides sounded off and a big talker was the use of e-cigarettes.
Currently 13 cities in the state of Minnesota have laws that ban the purchase of tobacco products for anyone under the age of 21. Officials say none of those are in our region, but if Hermantown takes that step, many other cities could follow.
While all tobacco products have proven to be accessible for underage students the biggest concern is vaping or e-cigarettes.
According to a Minnesota Student Survey for the Hermantown District, one in five Hermantown High school students vape.
The American Lung Association in Duluth says there were more than 80 people were at Monday’s meeting to show their support for the proposed ban, but dozens filled the other side of council chambers to say e-cigs has helped curb their tobacco addiction and say it’s a healthier alternative.
The Lung Association says the purpose of the ban would be to take the products out of high school settings.
Manager of Health and Promotions for the organization in Duluth, Amanda Casady says, “tobacco, specifically vaping products, e-cigs are being used at very high rates within the schools and younger students are purchasing and getting their products from the 18-year-olds who can legally purchase currently. So 21 helps to raise it and take it out of the schools.”
Casady says Duluth city councilors have been discussing the possibility of raising the tobacco purchase age as well.
Hermantown council is set to hold another public hearing prior to a council vote on November 5.