City of MPLS to Ban Menthol Cigarette Sales

On January 1st, 2016, the City of Minneapolis banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in convenience stores, liquor stores and other tobacco retail outlets, except for a small number of tobacco retail outlets.  On August 2nd, Councilman Cam Gordon (author) and co-author Councilwoman Lisa Bender’s committee approved the ban of menthol flavored tobacco products to be sold everywhere but tobacco shops and liquor stores.
I attended a listening session that was very well ran by council members Gordon and Bender.  Members of the MLBA were present along with dozens of convenience store owners. I was able to speak to the council members and the group assembled. The message I gave was that our retailers, the proud MLBA member off-premise licensees, vet customers for age like no other industry. We post signs, telling customers that you are not allowed in our stores unless you are 21 and over or with parent or legal guardian. We card customers more than any industry. We even fail far fewer compliance checks for tobacco than tobacco shops, convenience stores and of course, grocery stores. The last compliance check run in Minneapolis showed a less than 2% failure rate for liquor stores for tobacco products. No other tobacco selling entity can show such numbers. Our off premise businesses are responsible sellers of adult only products and it has been proven! This message was drafted in letters to the committee members as well as the full council.
The full city council will vote on the recommendation of the steering committee this Friday, August 4th at the Minneapolis City Hall located on 350 S. 5th Street. The enactment date will be August 1st, 2018. I wanted to thank those off premise establishments that stepped up and lobbied the Minneapolis City Council. We showed the council committee that we can and will be responsible purveyors of not only menthol but all tobacco products.
But, it is not over.  On July 26th, St. Paul tobacco sellers were delivered a letter from their city representatives. The City of St. Paul will be holding a public hearing on September 20th, 2017, at 5:30pm for proposed amendments to St. Paul Ordinance Chapter 324 – Tobacco. St. Paul’s proposed ordinance change mirrors that of Minneapolis. We need the support of you, the St. Paul off-premise retailer! The city council needs to hear from you with the argument that I stated earlier in regards to Minneapolis. You are responsible retailers. You do not sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 and that you do not allow minors in your establishments without being accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
If you have any questions, please contact me.  I can be reached at (651) 772-0910 or email at tony@mlba.com.  I look forward to working with you on this on the final day in Minneapolis and to prepare for the September 20th hearing in St. Paul. Below is a link to a news story from WCCO.
Tony Chesak
MLBA Executive Director