Caleb Schultz

May 2017 - Edina made headlines across Minnesota on May 2, 2017, when the City Council unanimously passed a resolution raising the legal age for tobacco purchase from 18 to 21. While amending the long-standing ordinance required grassroots support, one local doctor played a particularly instrumental role.

Hennepin County Medical Center anesthesiologist and Edina resident Dr. Caleb Schultz is a member of the City's Community Heath Commission. After accepting that appointment in early 2016, Schultz wasted no time in exploring the possibility of bringing the growing "Tobacco 21" movement to Minnesota.
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Tobacco 21 is built upon a sobering statistic. "Across the country, 18 to 20 year olds purchase only 2% of all cigarettes sold - a sliver of sales," Schultz explained. However, this same demographic also purchases 90% of the addictive tobacco that finds its way to younger kids. "This is the lever by which Tobacco 21 works ... eliminating 2% of sales, nowhere near enough to take a local business under, cuts down on ‘smoking initiation' considerably."

Indeed, the National Academy of Medicine conservatively estimates that this policy change could, over a 15-year period, prevent upward of 30,000 young people in Minnesota from taking up smoking.

Such a reduction would correspond to a serious ding in the 6,300 deaths and $3 billion in preventable health care costs that Minnesota sees each and every year, according to Minnesotans For a Smoke-Free Generation.

Tobacco 21 is already the law of the land in California and Hawaii - and over 200 individual cities and counties to date have taken the initiative to adopt the change, as well, noted Schultz. Moreover, according to a recent national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 75% of adults support raising the tobacco purchase age to 21.

Nevertheless, changing Edina's standing ordinance required a tireless local champion, and Schultz stepped into the position without hesitation.

"I first presented the topic to the City Council in August 2016, in order to get approval for Tobacco 21 to be included in the Commission's work plan for 2017," he explained. "I then also gave several presentations at community meetings. At various times, I also made more presentations recommending ordinance changes to the City Council."

Smoking's deserved reputation as an unhealthy practice is well known, but Schultz's standing as a physician and member of the Community Heath Commission helped drive home the point.

When the new ordinance goes into effect in July 2017, residents of Edina and public health advocates across the state will owe a debt to Hometown Hero Caleb Schultz.