Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to take up a vote on adding a new penalty for violating the local tobacco sales ordinance. 

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In 2019, the board passed an ordinance that increased the minimum tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.

In May of 2020, Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law that prohibited tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21 at all Minnesota tobacco retailers. 

supporters of Olmsted County tobacco age change in 2019. Kim David, Townsquare Media
supporters of Olmsted County tobacco age change in 2019. Kim David, Townsquare Media
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On Monday board members will be asked to approve adding a penalty to the local ordinance that hits retailers with a $1,000 fine and a 30-day license suspension if they have been found to have violated the state law and ordinance for a fourth time in a three-year time span. 

Olmsted County
Olmsted County
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Current state law only lists penalties for retailers who sell to underaged customers three times in a 36-month period. Monday’s agenda item also calls for the county to align its ordinance with the state law. 

Olmsted County
Olmsted County
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The changes include increasing fines for retailers that violate the sales law. If approved, fines against local tobacco retailers who sell to people under the age of 21 will be increased from $75 to $300 for the first violation, hiked from $200 to $600 for the second violation if it occurs within three years of the first violation and raised from $250 to $1,000 for the third violation if it happens within 36 months of the first violation. 

Olmsted County
Olmsted County
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The agenda item also keeps a week-long license suspension for retailers who violate the ordinance and law for a third time. The proposed changes were first reviewed during a county board retreat this past March.

The measure passed out of committee in August. The board will host a public hearing before voting on the measure during its October 3 meeting.

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