Olmsted County Public Health receives Community Service Award for Tobacco 21 efforts
1/22/2020 Kari Etrheim, Public Health

Olmsted County Public Health representatives with the 2019 Community Service Award
On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, the Zumbro Valley Medical Society (ZVMS) presented the 2019 Community Service Award to Olmsted County Public Health Services for its collaborative efforts in raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 in Olmsted County, an effort referred to as “Tobacco 21.” 

Throughout 2019, Olmsted County Public Health Services partnered with law enforcement, students and school administrators, and local health providers to provide research and studies, consultation and education to youth, adults and leaders in the community to assure a full understanding of the impacts of nicotine on our youth.  
In April 2019, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance that raised the legal age to purchase tobacco and other nicotine products from 18 to 21. 

“Anything we can do to protect them from developing nicotine dependence during the formative years is important to their health and to the community at large in reducing future health problems,” said Olmsted County Commissioner Stephanie Podulke. “I am proud of our decision.”

Olmsted County joined more than 530 cities and counties in 31 states across the county in passing Tobacco 21 legislation. In December 2019, federal legislation was passed raising the national tobacco purchasing age to 21. 

“This is an important component to help reverse the youth vaping epidemic,” said Director of Olmsted County Public Health Services Graham Briggs. “Tobacco and nicotine addiction is still a serious concern for our youth and young adults, and leads to a life-long addiction, compromised health, and premature death.”