Vote On Flavored Tobacco Ordinance Expected By Monday

Under the Ordinance Customers Would Still be Able to Buy Flavored Tobacco Products from Adult Only Smoke Shops

DULUTH, Minn. – The issues with the restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco products inside Northland convenient stores isn’t going away anytime soon.

Several local retailers are standing united and are against the city council approving this ordinance.

Today they made one last effort before the council make its decision.

Inside the Snyder’s Drug Store in Duluth local retailers gave reasons why they oppose the ordinance on flavored tobacco products.

If the ordinance is approved stores like Snyder’s may suffer financially.

“I’m going to lose probably $80,000 to $100,000 just in sales at one little store. I’m not a franchise, just an independent, said Snyder’s Drug Store Owner Reijo Rahkola. “I’m the only one downtown, no more convenient stores like this in downtown Duluth and for me to lose that kind of money is devastating.”

Councilor Zack Filipovich is the co–sponsor of the ordinance.

He supports it because he wants to help prevent kids and non–smokers from becoming smokers.

“Forty–four percent of youth smokers smoke menthol cigarettes and that’s primarily how they get started,” said Filipovich. “And again we should treat this tobacco flavoring just like any other tobacco flavoring product.”

Big name stores like Holiday Station went on to say how 97 percent of the time they don’t sell these products to minors.

They have even tried to come up with a solution with the City Council.

“Go to 100 percent ID checks for everybody, doesn’t matter if you’re 90 years old. If you do not have an ID we will not sell to you,” said Holiday Station District Manager Bob Bucci. “We’ve asked them can we do that. Can we rearrange our back bars, so menthol is not even visible, or any of that sort of thing?”

Health officials tells us menthol has a way of numbing, so learning how to smoke is easier.

These products are also targeted to communities like African Americans, LGBT and the youth.

“This policy, this proposed ordinance addresses that profiling over decades and really sets our community to be a community that really values health all policies,” said American Lung Association Regional Senior Director Pat McKone.

The first read of the ordinance happened about three weeks ago.

On Feb. 12 the City Council is expected to make a decision on the restriction of flavored tobacco products inside convenience stores.

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