The City of Cambridge is using social media to gather public input as the council looks at raising the purchasing age of tobacco products.
Cambridge is one of two cities in Isanti County not affected by a countywide resolution to raise the purchasing age from 18 to 21 that was unanimously passed in March. The other city being Braham.
The county passed the increase because of the rates of tobacco use among Isanti County students some of the highest in the state.
"From a public health perspective, that's not a good trend for our county, so they're [city council] trying to balance the importance of public health versus the importance of personal choice," said City Administrator Lynda Wolf
The city wants to gather as much input from a variety of places as possible while they weight their options.
"City council wanted to get just some general feedback from residents about how they felt about that," said Wolf. She went onto say, "We put the facebook post out there to try to get people's impressions and feeling on it."
The Facebook post has gathered over 100 comments from community members since April 10, and many posters are against an age increase.
One commenter wrote, "If we are going to let our "eighTEEN" year olds serve in our military and risk their lives protecting our rights and our country, I believe they can make their own decisions about tobacco use."
However, there are a growing number of commenters who believe raising the age would help stop underage use before it starts.
"I've struggled with smoking for many many years. Quit, start, quit start......I say raise the age! Hindsight is always 20/20, but I think that maybe if they weren't so easy to get (my friends were all older than me in high school, but it was my decision) maybe I wouldn't have started, maybe I would have," wrote another commenter.
Overall, Wolf says about 70% of commenters were against the idea. This information will be added to a May council meeting packet to be weighed by council members along with input from local licensed tobacco shop owners and a number of committees.
The Cambridge City Council plans to look this issue during their May 6 meeting.
Photo courtesy of Cambridge City Hall Facebook page.