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St. Paul Prohibits Sale of Menthol Tobacco to Liquor Stores, Tobacco Shops

Gasoline stations and c-stores will have until November 2018 to remove menthol products from their shelves.
November 3, 2017

​ST. PAUL – St. Paul gas stations and convenience stores will soon be prohibited from selling menthol tobacco products when a new ordinance kicks in next year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. C-stores and gas stations will have until November 2018 to comply with the new restriction. Neighboring city Minneapolis already has a similar prohibition on the books.

This week, the St. Paul City Council approved the measure that only allows liquor stores and tobacco shops to sell mint, wintergreen and menthol tobacco products. The council took only a month to hear from both sides of the issue before voting but only held a single meeting on the topic. Twenty-two gas stations and corner store owners sent the council a letter asking for the vote to be delayed while a third party studied the potential impact on businesses.

Diya Shuaibi, manager of Premium Stop, was one letter signer, saying close to half of his tobacco sales came from menthol cigarettes and now he fears those customers will simply stop coming in to his store. “It’s not fair,” he said. “The logic behind it doesn’t make sense. If something is bad, it should be banned for everybody.”

The measure passed with only one dissenting vote from councilmember Dan Bostrom, who said the change will only enrich liquor and tobacco store owners without solving the concerns raised about menthol and flavored tobacco products.

Meanwhile, New Jersey raised its tobacco-buying age to 21 on November 1, becoming the third state to have 21 as the legal tobacco usage and purchase age, the Press of Atlantic City reports. “By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” said Gov. Chris Christie when he signed the bill in July.