Edina considers 21-year minimum age for buying smokes

It’s not quite clear whether Edina thinks raising the smoking age to 21 is merely a message or whether the city believes it will make a difference.

The Star Tribune reports that the City Council this week voted to draft an ordinance banning tobacco sales to anyone under 21.

As 18-to-21-year-olds tend to be a resourceful — and mostly: adult — lot, those who want to smoke will figure out how to buy a pack of smokes when they live in a “dry town.” Young adults can figure out where the town’s border is.

“If we can have a direct local impact on the health of our residents and [try] to do something that’s positive … we’ll take that step,” Edina Mayor Jim Hovland tells the paper.

This is in a city that still runs its own liquor stores. Check out the number of DWI’s in the latest Edina crime report.

The city would be one of 210 nationwide to raise the minimum age, and there appears to be no subsequent move at the Legislature to strip a community’s right to do so, as there was in the last few weeks with a minimum wage and sick-time rules considered by some cities. But those would actually make a difference, possibly explaining the reluctance to wade into a generally meaningless ordinance.

Dr. Caleb Schultz of the city’s Community Health Commission, cited a 2013 study showing 13 percent of 11th graders in Edina had used tobacco products in the previous month. “By raising the age to 21, you’re essentially getting tobacco out of high schools,” Schultz tells the Star Tribune.

Don’t hold your breath.