St. Louis Park City Council discusses ban of flavored tobacco sales
At an October 2, 2017, study session, the St. Louis Park City Council discussed a draft ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco in St. Louis Park, and asked city staff to prepare a proposed ordinance for a first reading to take place at the November 20, 2017, regular city council meeting.
Although federal law prohibits flavored cigarettes, tobacco companies offer items such as cigars, chew, blunt wraps, e-cigarettes and the tobacco used in hookahs in flavors like candy, chocolate, bubble gum and fruit. Research in this area by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that flavored tobacco use is more common in youth than adults, and that of those middle and high school students who reported using tobacco products, an estimated 70% had used flavored tobacco products in the last month.
This is the latest step in the St. Louis Park City Council’s efforts to limit the availability of tobacco products in the city in order to help reduce the number of youth who begin using tobacco. On October 1, 2017, the legal age to purchase tobacco and tobacco products in St. Louis Park increased to age 21, an ordinance passed by the city council earlier this year.
An informational meeting for the 23 tobacco license holders regarding the proposed flavored tobacco ordinance will be scheduled for late October. Should the ordinance pass following a second reading at the December 4, 2017, city council meeting, it would go into effect May 1, 2018, to allow retailers to sell remaining products. Menthol, mint and wintergreen would be exempt from the list of prohibited flavors, as they have been in regular use for many decades and are not directly marketed to youth.
The City of St. Louis Park is not the first to consider such a measure regarding flavored tobacco products. Minneapolis has adopted an ordinance regarding flavored tobacco; St. Paul recently tabled its discussion about a similar ordinance in favor of further discussion with affected retailers. Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Maplewood and Richfield have implemented various regulations on packaging and minimum pricing.