The Carlton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a tobacco ordinance Monday, Dec. 23 that will raise the legal age people can buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

The measure will also restrict the sale of menthol and flavored tobacco.

The board voted on the ordinance following a public hearing. The changes will only impact stores licensed in Carlton County.

During the hearing, Ali Mueller and Meghann Levitt from Carlton County Health and Human Services gave a presentation about the impacts of tobacco on youth. Through research, they learned that 97% of adults started smoking by 21 years old. They also said teenagers are most likely to use fruity, candy or menthol flavors.

Furthermore, the lung problems caused by vaping are not treatable.

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Student representatives who attend school board meetings at Barnum have asked for help to get vaping out of the school, said Paul Coughlin, who spoke as a Barnum School Board member.

Rick Breuer, chief operating officer and administrator at Community Memorial Hospital, told commissioners there is not much they can do at the hospital to reduce youth vaping, but the ordinance would help address the problem.

Chairman Dick Brenner asked a few students in the audience what they think of the tobacco ordinance. A young man said he feels a lot of students vape at Cloquet High School, so he is in favor of the ordinance.

The ordinance will help get vaping devices out of the hands of youth, who sometimes use them for vaping THC, said Carlton County Attorney Laurie Ketola. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

After the board passed the ordinance, the audience showed their approval with a round of applause.