Yesterday, the St. Paul City Council voted 6-1 to dramatically limit the places where menthol tobacco products can be sold. Mayor Chris Coleman is expected to sign the ordinance.
This development comes after weeks of debate, during which Council Members examined all the implications a new menthol policy would have. The final ordinance, which will take effect in November of 2018, takes menthol tobacco products out of kid-friendly stores, limiting their sale to liquor stores and adult-only tobacco stores.
In the months leading up to the City Council’s consideration of this policy, Beautiful Lie, Ugly Truth, a campaign coordinated by the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR-MN) and supported by Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, helped educate about the role menthol plays in creating and sustaining tobacco addiction, especially among young people, African Americans and other specific communities. As in Minneapolis, which passed a similar policy in August, the push to pass the new ordinance was led by members of the community, and successfully countered a highly organized opposition campaign financed by the tobacco industry.
The following is a statement from Molly Moilanen, our Director of Public Affairs and co-chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition:
“We thank the members of the St. Paul City Council for taking this step to protect our young people from menthol tobacco. Menthol tobacco is marketed to women, African Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community and young people, and as a result those groups are more likely to smoke menthol. The tobacco industry knows that menthol masks the harshness of their deadly product, making it easier to start and harder to quit. Thank you, St. Paul leaders, for listening to your community and taking steps to ensure a healthier future generation by restricting access to menthol-flavored products.”