St. Paul considers ‘pioneering’ anti-smoking proposal


St. Paul is on the verge of adopting some of the toughest rules in the country to cut tobacco sales.

What is happening: The seven city council members will formally present a proposed ordinance on Wednesday that would set a minimum price of $ 10 for cigarette packs and ban coupons and discounts for all other tobacco products, including vape pens.

  • The proposal, which already has the backing of Mayor Melvin Carter, would also significantly reduce the number of tobacco licenses in the future.

Why is this important: Proponents say raising prices is one of the most effective tactics for reducing tobacco use, which causes cancer and other adverse health effects.

  • They argue the ban on promotions will close a loophole that stores and wholesalers are now using to bypass minimum prices set by a state formula.

The big picture: Taken as a whole, the order proposed by St. Paul would probably represent the most aggressive tobacco restrictions in the country without seeking to ban sales outright, as two California cities have done.

  • Proposal The surrender ban is based on similar measures adopted in New York and Providence, Rhode Island.
  • “It’s really pioneering,” Jeanne Weigum, who has worked behind the scenes on the issue for years as president of the Association for Non-smokers-MN, told Axios.

The other side: Retailers have raised concerns that the changes are going too far and could hurt local businesses, including stores already struggling due to the pandemic, online competition and existing tobacco control initiatives.

  • “What I tend to hear in St. Paul right now, noting what the board has done in recent years in the tobacco business, is that it’s too early,” said Bruce Nustad, president from the Minnesota Retailers Association, to the Pioneer Press. .
  • Representatives of domestic tobacco vendors did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Between the lines: While smoking rates in the United States have declined over the past decades, some surveys and indicators suggest that consumption has increased for some in 2020.

  • “Tobacco and the pandemic are kind of a compounding catastrophe and we think now is the perfect time to deal with it… from a public health perspective,” Weigum said.

What we hear: Carter plans to sign the order if it passes in the coming weeks as scheduled.

  • “Protecting those most vulnerable to the harmful effects of smoking is essential,” he said in a statement to Axios. “As we continue to support the health and well-being of our community, I look forward to the public conversation on how this proposed amendment can support our efforts.”

What to watch: Expect to see a push to adopt similar measures in other cities to build momentum for statewide law.

  • “Typically, this type of regulation takes wings locally before it takes off in the state,” Weigum said.


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