The St. Cloud City Council just passed an ordinance raising the minimum age to purchase cigarettes to the age of 21. Mayor Kleis made a great presentation, talking about how the United States Constitution was amended in 1972 in less than 3 months. Mayor Kleis noted that the 26th Amendment was passed unanimously in the Senate and with only a handful of dissenting votes in the House of Representatives. It took the states only 3 months to ratify the constitutional amendment. The text of the 26th Amendment statesSection 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

After hearing compelling testimony from the community, City Council President Lewis, Councilman Laraway, Councilman Hontos and Councilman Masters still voted with the CentraCare lobbying unit. One testifier was Mark Fritz, the owner of E-Cig Emporium in St. Cloud. His testimony was blunt and to the point. He said “Your ordinance will not stop them. You need to recognize all you’re doing is hurting your local businesses.”

The good news is that Mayor Kleis has already announced that he’ll veto the ordinance, saying “I can’t support it and I won’t sign it.” Thanks to Kleis’s veto, St. Cloud stayed away from becoming a total supporter of nanny statism.

The truth is that the City Council is approaching this the wrong way. They’re trying to limit supply when they should be trying to limit demand. If you don’t reduce demand for cigarettes, limiting where young people can purchase cigarettes won’t have a significant impact. It’s the rule of the forbidden fruit. If you tell someone they can’t have something, that thing quickly becomes the thing they want most.

One of the testifiers noted that cigarette smoking has dropped each year for a long time. It isn’t the problem health organizations make it out to be. That isn’t saying we shouldn’t try reducing it more. It’s that we should try reducing smoking through educating people, then trusting them to make an informed decision. People who are old enough to sign a contract are certainly old enough to make an informed decision. Based on their votes, Lewis, Laraway, Hontos and Masters disagreed with that principle.

St. Cloud State students should remember that these councilmembers think these students aren’t able to make informed decisions the next time that quartet is up for re-election.

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