Earlier this week, St. Paul, Minnesota passed new retail tobacco restrictions that will improve health equity, reduce youth tobacco use, and reduce the presence of tobacco across communities in the city. The new policies include:
- Minimum floor prices and a discount ban: The city set a $10 minimum price per pack of cigarettes and a $10 minimum price per standard pack of moist snuff or snus ($10 per 1.2 once package of moist snuff with an additional $2.50 per 0.3 ounces for larger size packages and a $10 minimum price per .32 ounce package of snus with an additional $2.50 per .08 ounces). The city already had a minimum price for cigars of $2.60 per cigar. They also banned the redemption of coupons and sale of discounted tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.This means that the tobacco industry can’t use coupons or other price promotions to circumvent the minimum floor price or excise taxes. Raising prices is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, and these policies are likely to help do just that. Learn more about point-of-sale pricing policies.
- Retailer density limits: The city created a separate license for “tobacco product shops” that are 21+ and derive 90% of their revenue from tobacco products and set a citywide cap of 25 “tobacco product shop” licenses and 150 other tobacco retail licenses (reduced from combined total of 242 licenses). Tobacco licenses will also not be issued to retailers located within a 1/2 mile of another tobacco retailer. These policies will reduce tobacco retailer density over time. We know when density is higher (when there are more tobacco retailers concentrated in an area), smoking rates and youth initiation are higher and people have a harder time quitting. Learn more about ways to reduce retailer density.
- Menthol sales restriction: They city extended it’s restriction on the sale of menthol and other flavored tobacco products to include liquor stores, leaving tobacco product shops as the only places allowed to sell flavored tobacco products.This is a win for health equity, given the historic and ongoing targeting of deadly menthol cigarettes (which are easier to start and harder to quit) to the African American community and other marginalized groups. Learn more about menthol.
- Increased retailer penalties: The new restrictions also come with an increase in penalties for retailers selling to minors.
- Inclusion of synthetic nicotine: The updated city code clarifies the definition of “nicotine or lobelia delivery product” to include synthetic nicotine