ST. CLOUD - There was high drama at Monday night's St. Cloud city council meeting. After a long 2 1/2 hour debate over whether to change the city's ordinance and raise the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 years old, the city council narrowly approved the measure by a 4-3 vote.

However, Mayor Dave Kleis then announced his intention to exercise his power to veto the measure.

Under our charter, I have the ability to vote and I am going to veto this legislation.

Dozens of people spoke during the public hearing with 25 residents speaking in favor of raising the age. Many of them were connected to Centracare.

I am part of the breath savers group from CentraCare and I have learned a whole lot of things that I should have known years ago.  I strongly support raising the age to buy tobacco to 21.

Meanwhile, about 12 people were opposed to the change.  Many of them retailers in the city.

Anything that legislative bodies do to restrict free choices takes away liberties.  And it is a slippery slope that we are on in terms of our liberties.

Two Minnesota cities have already passed ordinances to change the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 - Edina and St. Louis Park.

The four council members in favor of the change were Dave Masters, Steve Laraway, George Hontos, and Carol Lewis. The three against it were Jeff Johnson, John Libert, and Jeff Goerger.

The city council could still override the Mayor's veto, but that would take a supermajority vote.

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