Douglas County Commissioner Jerry Rapp, who represents the Osakis area, is all for raising the tobacco age to 21. However, he wishes the Legislature would go after it and enact a statewide law.
Rapp sits on the Horizon Public Health Community Health Board, which governs the overall policy direction, operations and financial management of Horizon Public Health. He said this is a subject the board has been talking about for quite some time.
“It would just be better if whole states went after it instead of chipping away at it county by county or city by city,” said Rapp. “I’m not opposed to it at all.”
He also said education is key, but doesn’t know what it would take to educate the younger generation that smoking and vaping are “not cool,” and are extremely harmful.
Douglas County Chairman Charlie Meyer also believes in the education process and thinks more education is needed. However, he is not in favor of the Tobacco 21 efforts and believes the age should remain at 18.
“You’re an adult at 18 and can go to war,” he said.
Meyer also sits on the Horizon Public Health Community Health Board, but does not advocate for changing the law.
The Minnesota Department of Health supports statewide efforts to raise the legal sale age to 21. During the last legislative session, the statewide Tobacco 21 bill passed committees in both the Minnesota House and Senate, but did not garner enough support to make it over the finish line and become law.
Nationally, more than 500 cities and counties in 30 states have adopted a Tobacco 21 policy.
In Minnesota, as of Oct. 15, 52 communities have enacted the Tobacco 21 policy.
Three counties near Douglas County that have passed the Tobacco 21 law include Pope, Otter Tail and Stevens.