Minnesota bill would raise smoking age to 21 statewide

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers are looking to ride the momentum of cities raising their tobacco sales age by proposing a statewide increase to 21.

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would raise the age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21. If passed, Minnesota would be the sixth state to increase its smoking age.

Advocates say it would steer young adults away from smoking, which drives up health care costs. Tobacco use among Minnesota teens has dropped in recent years, but officials have noted an increase e-cigarette use. The increase would apply to e-cigarettes.

Five Minnesota cities have independently increased the tobacco-buying age since May. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka doubts there's widespread support for a statewide increase this year.

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