St. Paul City Council proposes setting a minimum price for cigarettes; prohibiting coupons in tobacco and vaping product sales

St. Paul City Council will consider an ordinance that sets a $10 minimum price for cigarette packs and standard-size cans of smokeless tobacco and prohibits the use of coupons or price promotions on all commercial tobacco products. If passed, St….

St. Paul City Council will consider an ordinance that sets a $10 minimum price for cigarette packs and standard-size cans of smokeless tobacco and prohibits the use of coupons or price promotions on all commercial tobacco products. If passed, St. Paul will be one of a handful of cities in the country that will prohibit both the use of coupons and other price promotions. A public hearing on the ordinance is set for October 20th, followed by a city council vote on the 27th.

If approved, the restrictions would go into effect November 27th.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of tobacco stores and violations of our existing tobacco policies in St. Paul. This comprehensive ordinance will strengthen our existing system to hold tobacco stores accountable. It will also protect our communities most impacted by tobacco industry targeting by keeping tobacco prices high and reducing access to these harmful products,” said Amy Brendmoen, St. Paul’s Council President.

The proposed ordinance also lays out a number of other clarifying provisions, including:

Creating two classes of tobacco licenses – one for businesses like convenience stores that sell tobacco along with other products and one for businesses that primarily sell tobacco products

Setting a distance between retailers that sell tobacco of at least one-half mile

Reducing the number of tobacco licenses over time

Prohibiting the sale of all menthol and flavored tobacco products in liquor stores

Increasing penalties on retailers who violate city tobacco policies will help stem the tide of tobacco addiction in communities most impacted by tobacco industry targeting. Tobacco companies spent $7.7 billion in 2016 to reduce the price of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco for consumers. That is nearly $900,000 every hour. Tobacco companies use coupons and retail promotions to lower the price of products. Price promotions are targeted to smokers, so they are nearly invisible to the general public and allow the tobacco industry to manipulate their prices.

Only a few cities across the country have adopted minimum price and price discounting prohibition policies; St. Paul’s policy is the most comprehensive because it includes e-cigarettes.

“Coupons and price promotions are another example of the tobacco industry targeting communities of color with cheap tobacco,” said Sylvia Amos, Director of Programs, Stairstep Foundation. “The Black community has had enough of the tobacco companies profiting off our lives. This proposed policy will save lives.”

St. Paul’s tobacco ordinance comes after years of organizing and advocacy led by the Association for Nonsmokers–Minnesota (ANSR). ANSR engaged more than 40 diverse community partners, St. Paul neighborhood District Councils, the St. Paul Youth Commission and the St. Paul Human Rights Commission to support the effort.

“Minnesota kids targeted by Big Tobacco deserve strong tobacco prevention policies that put public health ahead of tobacco industry profits,” said Molly Moilanen, Vice President at ClearWay MinnesotaSM and Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. “We urge the St. Paul City Council to pass this comprehensive and life-saving policy.”

About Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of more than 60 organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. The coalition supports policies that reduce youth smoking and nicotine addiction, including increasing tobacco prices, ending the sale of menthol and all flavored tobacco products, and funding tobacco prevention and treatment programs.

Partners include: The African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health, Allina Health | Aetna, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Becker County Energized, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation, Cancer Legal Care, CentraCare, Children’s Defense Fund-MN, Children’s Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Dodge County Public Health, Education Minnesota, Essentia Health, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, A Healthier Southwest, HealthPartners, Hennepin Healthcare, Horizon Public Health, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, JustUs Health, LAAMPP Alumni, Lake Region Healthcare, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, LPCFC – Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, March of Dimes, Masonic Cancer Center – University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Medica, Meeker McLeod Sibley Community Health Services, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Dental Association, MHA – Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Society for Public Health Education, Minnesota Public Health Association, MNAAP – Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, ModelCities, NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health, NorthPoint Health & Wellness, Olmsted Medical Center, Open Cities Health Center, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe), PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Perham Health & Living, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, ShiftMN, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Steele County Public Health, Tobacco-Free Alliance, Twin Cities Medical Society, UCare, Vision In Living Life – Change is Possible, WellShare International and Zumbro Valley Medical Society.


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