Menthol Restrictions Up for Debate in Minneapolis City Hall

July 24, 2017 07:14 PM

A proposal to restrict the sale of menthol flavored tobacco drew dozens to Minneapolis City Hall Monday afternoon.

While some said that the partial ban would reduce youth exposure to a harmful product, others made the case that the ordinance may hurt stores' bottom lines.


Convenience store owner Clay Lambert spoke out against the proposal, which would limit menthol sales to adult-only tobacco shops. He said tobacco sales make up about 35 percent of his business at the Metro Petro on University Avenue. Of those tobacco sales, Lambert said about half come from menthol flavored products.

"There's very few people that come in and just get a pack of smokes," Lambert said. "They're getting a cup of coffee, a pack of smokes or a chew and some pop or something like that, and that's what we don't know, and that's why we're asking for a slowdown here."

Others said the issue is bigger than business.

"I have 12 granchildren," said Ken Kephart at the public hearing. "Their ages are 13 to two, and I hope they'll never get addicted." 

Others, like Sylvia Amos, said menthol products disproportionately impact youth and minority communities. 

"For me, it is simply a support of life or death, and I support life," Amos said. 

Some who oppose the ordinance said they aren't standing up for menthol, but they're standing up for their businesses. "That's part of the business," Lambert said. 

The Minneapolis Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee is scheduled to vote on the ordinance Wednesday morning. If passed, the full City Council is expected to vote sometime next month.

Councilman Cam Gordon said that if it passed, the ordinance would not go into effect until August 2018 at the earliest.  


Josh Rosenthal

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