Duluth restricts sale of menthol and flavored tobacco products, Mankato misses opportunity to save lives
Minneapolis, MN (2/13/18) – Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of over 50 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use, applauded the Duluth City Council for voting to protect youth from tobacco addiction. On Monday, the Council passed an ordinance restricting the sale of menthol-, fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores.
Separately, Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation expressed disappointment that the Mankato City Council missed an opportunity to pass a life-saving measure to raise the minimum tobacco sale age to 21. The proposal, which was supported by area parents, youth and physicians, fell short yesterday in a three to four vote after a public hearing.
“We are grateful that the Duluth City Council took this historic step to protect young people from flavored tobacco, ensuring a healthier future,” said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota, and co-chair of the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation coalition. “Keeping menthol-, fruit- and candy- flavored tobacco products away from our kids is another important step toward our goal of building a generation of Minnesota youth free from tobacco addiction.”
The Duluth policy removes flavored tobacco products from places youth frequent, like corner stores and gas stations. Most youth start using tobacco with flavored products. While flavors like menthol mask the harshness of tobacco, these products are just as addictive and dangerous as other tobacco products. Studies have found that menthol makes it easier for youth to start smoking and harder for adults to quit. Last year, Minneapolis and St. Paul passed menthol tobacco restrictions, some of the first in the country.
In Duluth, the final vote was seven Council Members voting in favor, with two opposed. The policy is set to implement in 120 days.
“Communities across the state and country are taking action to put their kids above Big Tobacco profits,” Moilanen added. “The vote by the Mankato City Council was deeply disappointing and a disservice to local youth targeted every day by the tobacco industry. We continue to stand by our young people, health experts and elected officials in fighting to raise the tobacco age in Mankato and Minnesota as a whole.”
Raising the tobacco age, commonly referred to as Tobacco 21, prevents youth tobacco use and saves lives. The tobacco industry aggressively markets to youth and young adults to recruit replacement smokers and guarantee future profits. Nearly 95 percent of addicted adult smokers start before age 21. There is broad support for raising the tobacco age to 21 and, to date, five states and 290 localities including five in Minnesota – Edina, St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth and, most recently, North Mankato – have passed Tobacco 21 policies.
The Mankato ordinance that was considered differed from other Minnesota cities with Tobacco 21 policies because it allowed penalties on youth and young adults for possession, use or purchase. These penalties have not been proven to reduce tobacco use. There is consensus from many national organizations and Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation that these penalties should not be included in Tobacco 21 policies.
About Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation supports policies that reduce youth smoking and help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use, including raising the tobacco age to 21, limiting youth access to menthol-, candy- and fruit- flavored tobacco, keeping tobacco prices high and funding future tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.
Partners include: A Healthier Southwest, African American Leadership Forum, Allina Health March of Dimes, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Medica, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Apple Tree Dental, Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota, Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Corporation, Becker County Energize, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CentraCare Health, Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio – CLUES, Dodge County Public Health, Essentia Health, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, HealthEast, Perham Health, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center, Hope Dental Clinic, Horizon Public Health, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, ISAIAH, LAAMPP Institute, Lake Region Healthcare, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, Minnesota Public Health Association, MN Association of Community Health Centers, MN Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc., NAMI Minnesota, North Memorial Health Care, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Rainbow Health Initiative, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, 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" and WellShare International. Find out more at: smokefreegenmn.org.