MINNEAPOLIS – Two years ago, the Minneapolis City Council voted to prohibit flavored tobacco from being sold at convenience stores. This week, councilmembers introduced a bill that would forbid the sale of menthol tobacco products at convenience stores, the Minnesota Daily reports.
Ward 10 Council Member Lisa Bender and Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon sponsored the proposal, which is supported by the Association of Nonsmokers–Minnesota and the Minneapolis Northpoint Health and Wellness Center. Activists have been working behind the scenes to target menthol cigarettes for years.
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets has been talking with local retailers to oppose the ban. “If enacted, this ordinance would cost Minneapolis retailers approximately $73 million per year in sales,” Tom Briant, the association’s executive director, said. “In the average convenience store business model, 36% of all sales is in tobacco.”
One retailer, Richard Bohnen, who owns a pair of gas stations, said such a ban on the heels of a higher minimum wage would cause significant harm to his stores. Briant also pointed out a menthol ban would stoke the contraband tobacco market. This will create conditions for criminal elements to come into Minneapolis and sell tobacco,” Briant said. “And ironically, that makes it easier for underage youth to get [tobacco].”