Businesses Feel Impact of Flavored Tobacco Ordinance

The ordinance on flavored tobacco products has been in effect since June 12, four months after the council passed it.

DULUTH, Minn. – The city of Duluth has now restricted the sales of flavored tobacco products at some businesses for more than two months.

It’s an ordinance that went into effect 120 days after the city voted to ban those products from grocery and convenience stores, limiting them to be sold at adult–only smoke shops.

It’s business as usual at Sadi’s Smoke Shop in Duluth.

One of the places where customers can still buy flavored tobacco products.

The city council passed the ordinance on Feb. 12 and Sadi’s owner says he’s seen an increase in sales ever since.

“For sure sales have increased more for everything,” said Arsay Sadi. “We have flavored, any tobacco has flavor, any liquid, any vape, any chew; increase for everything, we can say more traffic.”

Lovell Jeffers is one of Sadi’s frequent customers, but he isn’t a fan of the ordinance.

“I think it’s hurting businesses more, but at the same time people are more drawn here to the smoke shops, not even just for cigarettes, but they’re other things” said Jeffers.

Smoke shops are the only place you can buy flavored tobacco products. City leaders believe this ordinance helps prevent young people from picking up smoking habits.

Meanwhile it’s a different story at Gary’s Milk House Convenience Store.

Owner Derek Medved says after the ordinance passed his business has taken a hit.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Medved. “We don’t know where it’s going to take us for the future.”

Tobacco sales in his store are down about 42 percent.

Derek tells us he’s had to do something no business owner wants.

“Somebody who comes to my store, my location to shop with us; we turn them away and send them to competition across the bridge or across the border and say hey, we unfortunately can’t help you here, but we hope you can find somebody who can help you elsewhere,” said Medved.

The ordinance on flavored tobacco products has been in effect since June 12, four months after the council passed it.

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