Following other states, some ND communities look at raising tobacco purchase age to 21

Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 6:59 PM CDT
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Fourteen states have raised the purchase age for tobacco products to 21. While North Dakota hasn't followed suit, some communities are looking at the idea. Lincoln City Commissioner Tom Volk says the commission heard proposals from Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health about increasing the purchase age, among others ideas.

Tobacco Free North Dakota says it's worked with several city and county commissions on what a “Tobacco 21” law would mean for their communities.

North Dakota lawmakers rejected a bill during the session to raise the purchasing age to 19. TFND says going to the local communities might get more people to buy into the programs.

“As more data comes out showing the effects and hopefully the benefits of those policies being put in place, then we'll have more to share and have more traction come up across North Dakota for that,” said Heather Austin, Tobacco Free North Dakota.

The CDC hasn't fully endorsed the change, but listed it as a promising practice. Congress is looking at multiple different bills related to the issue.

North Dakota Rep. Alisa Mitskog, D-Wahpeton, says if the federal government fails to act, she will consider bringing legislation next session to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21. Mitskog says her legislation would include e-cigarette products as well.