Non-Smoke Shops Prepare for June 12 Flavored Tobacco Ban in Duluth

DULUTH, Minn.- The time has come. The tobacco-flavored ordinance is going into effect.

“This is an important step especially for youth,” American Lung Association Regional Senior Director Pat McKone said.

Starting Tuesday, June 12, smoke shops are the only stores in Duluth that will be able to sell flavored tobacco products.

“It’s so normal to have tobacco in our culture that we need to rethink it,” McKone said.

The main goal for supports of this ordinance is to keep young people from getting hooked on tobacco products.

“I myself smoke menthols and now I can’t buy them where I work,” Retail Worker/Smoker Gwen Fifield said.

Duluth is one of only a handful of Minnesota cities to pass a flavored tobacco products ordinance.

“As you see many of these flavors are very attractive to young people,” McKone said.

With colorful packaging and flavors like watermelon and pineapple.

“Also products that seem not as bad as smoking to young people yet can and will lead to a lifetime of addiction,” McKone said.

But not everyone agrees with the new ordinance.

“It is a nuisance, you don’t get to go to just any gas station and get what cigarettes you want, you have to go to a smoke shop and they’re not everywhere,” Fifield said.

Over 80 stores in Duluth are clearing their shelves of flavored tobacco products, while four smoke shops in Duluth are stoking up for the extra business.

“I think it will affect in the right way, we’re here to serve our community,” Sadi’s Smoke Shop owner Ayser Sadi said.

You must be over the age of 18 to enter a Smoke Shop.

“No kids allowed to go inside the shop and we also card every single customer that looks like, 35 years old and down,” Sadi said.

The owner of Sadi’s Smoke Shop is already increasing staff and extending its hours.

“We never expect laws like that,” Sadi said.

“Tobacco is something that no one wants in their lives and that there’s not a market for it any longer,”  McKone said.

Restricting where flavored tobacco products can be purchased rather than banning sales altogether is because of logistics.

“There was a higher probability that the tobacco industry would sue the city and that would have put some stops to moving forward,” McKone said.

For those behind the lethal lure movement, to cut down on young tobacco users, this is a big step for Duluth. For local stores and customers, it will certainly be a big change as well.

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