The Yellow Medicine County Board last week discussed the possibility of adopting a Tobacco 21 policy, which would raise the tobacco sale age to 21. The policy would need to be passed by each town in the county before moving to the board for approval. Beltrami County in northern Minnesota adopted a Tobacco 21 policy last week, becoming the 22nd community in the state to do so.

The movement to raise the age comes at a time when youth tobacco use has increased dramatically. The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory on youth e-cigarette use, following two national studies showing that youth vaping had reached epidemic levels.  In a recent study, nearly 1 in 5 Minnesota high-school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month – a nearly 50 percent surge from 2014. Tobacco 21 advocates say the policy would reduce smoking among 15-to-17-year-olds by an estimated 25 percent.