Flavored tobacco ban is a first step

In an effort to reduce tobacco use among young people, the St. Paul City Council recently passed an ordinance prohibiting gas stations and convenience stores from selling non-menthol-flavored tobacco products. 
 
 
The new restrictions will take effect in April. St. Paul City Council member Dai Thao called them “a clear message to the big tobacco industry,” saying corporations should stop targeting young people. 
 
 
However, many business owners are warier of the new restrictions, which Tom Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, said will cost the average retailer about $50,000 per year. 
 
 
The Minneapolis City Council approved an ordinance similar to St. Paul’s in July. Nationwide, other cities have also taken steps to reduce the accessibility of flavored tobacco products. Chicago prohibits their sale within 500 feet of a school, while New York City has banned them altogether. 
 
 
We commend St. Paul for taking proactive steps to combat tobacco use and nicotine addiction in young people. However, it would be naive to think the problem will disappear thanks to the new rule. Children raised in a household condoning tobacco use or nicotine addiction may find ways to access restricted products via their caretakers — for example, children raised by nicotine-dependent smokers are far more likely to smoke than those raised by nonsmokers. 
 
 
Therefore, to continue the fight against youth addiction, we encourage cities in the Metro area to consider raising taxes on nicotine products to discourage buyers from purchasing them in the first place.