FOLEY -- Benton County is considering raising the tobacco-buying age to 21.

Nicole Ruhoff is the County Public Health Supervisor. She says their tobacco committee has been meeting for about a year.

Raising the age to legally buy tobacco products in the county is just one of seven changes they are recommending to the county board.

She says only businesses in rural Benton County and the smaller communities would be impacted.

The cities of Sauk Rapids, Foley, and St. Cloud still license their own establishments and so what we would be affecting is more of those rural small towns, so anything in outskirts Benton County, Rice area and Gilman area.

Ruhoff says about 15 establishments would be impacted by any changes made to the county's tobacco ordinance.

She says the committee wants to reduce the access to tobacco products for younger residents.

Really the intent is to help decrease the youth access.  We care about the youth and their health here in Benton County and so these are some little things that we can do.

The Benton County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed tobacco ordinance changes on July 16th. If it passes, the changes would go into effect on January 1st, 2020.

The seven proposed changes are:
1).  updating the definition to meet state and federal standards
2).  updating the distance in proximity to schools for selling tobacco
3).  prohibiting sampling
4).  requiring instruction programs for vendors
5).  minimum price and packaging standards for cigars
6).  price promotion and coupon redemption would not be allowed
7).  raising the tobacco-buying age to 21