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Plymouth Prioritizes the Health of Kids Over Big Tobacco Profits

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MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of more than 50 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, thanks the Plymouth City Council for voting tonight to put kids above tobacco industry profits by raising the minimum tobacco sale age to 21.

Momentum toward increasing the tobacco age to 21 is building in Minnesota and nationally. Tonight’s vote brings the total number of Minnesota communities that have raised the age up to four. Plymouth joins Edina, St. Louis Park and Bloomington among Tobacco 21 communities, with others around the state considering similar moves. So far, five states and more than 270 communities across the country have raised the tobacco age to 21. Public support for raising the age is strong: A 2015 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that three out of four American adults support the move.

“Plymouth city leaders took bold action to prevent young people from ever getting hooked on tobacco products. The City Council showed true leadership, making a decision in the best interest of their constituents, and not bowing to tobacco industry pressure,” said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota and co-chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition. “Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a life-saving policy. It will help keep more of today’s young people from suffering the addiction, disease and premature death caused by tobacco.”

Local parents, youth advocates, medical professionals, employers and public health experts asked the Council to support raising the tobacco age to 21 during the public hearing. A few of their comments:

“Employers like us in Minnesota have 15 to 19 percent of employees who are addicted to nicotine,” said Joel Spoonheim, Director of Health Promotion at HealthPartners. “Let me restate that: Tonight you are being pushed to worry about 2 percent of tobacco sales for retailers when I’m here to talk about the impact on nearly a fifth of our employee base, which is for most employers their largest cost.”

Robbinsdale High School sophomore Sara Schiff also emphasized the high cost of tobacco use. “Too many of my friends and their families have lost someone because of tobacco use,” said Schiff. “Big Tobacco spends so much money and time trying to get young people like me to use their deadly products.”

Dr. Lisa Mattson, a local physician

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