About 20 supporters of a ban to sell tobacco products to persons under 21 in Stevens County turned out for a June 18 public hearing on the proposed ban. Most supporters were wearing light blue T-shirts in support of a ban. No one spoke against the proposed ban during the public hearing.
The county will have a second hearing on the proposed ban at its July 2 meeting.
Becca Holland, a student at the University of Minnesota Morris and a Morris Area High School graduate said she worries for students she will soon be student teaching.
A ban to sell tobacco products to those under 21 would keep high school and younger kids safer because it would reduce access to high school students, Holland said.
As a college student, "I see vaping all the time," Holland said. Vaping is an electronic cigarette or similar device containing nicotine. A vapor is produced when using the device. Ingredients can be used to add a flavor such as fruit to the vapor.
It is mostly younger college students such as freshmen who are vaping, she said.
A long time advocate for cancer prevention policies and programs Kayla Hawkinson of Chokio said a ban to sell tobacco products to persons under 21 protects youth.
"(Research) shows that if a person does not start tobacco use by age 21 they are not likely to start, Hawkinson said.
If individuals under 21 can't buy tobacco it means 18-and 19-year-olds won't be able to buy tobacco and reduces the chance that their younger friends will have access to tobacco, Hawkinson said.
Summer Anderson of Morris is the parent of two boys, 11 and 13. Recently, she learned that several 13-year-olds were vaping in a bathroom during a youth baseball game. That's concerning, she said. A tobacco sale ban to under 21-year-olds would help limit access to such teens, Anderson said.
Commissioners thanked the speakers for their input and announced the July 2 date of the second public hearing.