The St. Paul City Council will take up an ordinance this week that would establish new restrictions on tobacco and vape sales that are among the toughest in the country.

The council will first hear an ordinance Wednesday that would limit the number of tobacco licenses available in the city and ban discounts and coupons for tobacco and vape products. The new policy would also set a $10 minimum for packs of cigarettes, and ban the sale of menthol tobacco products in liquor stores.

If passed, the new restrictions would be among the strictest in the nation, with only New York and Providence, Rhode Island having established similar policies, according to the Pioneer Press.

The Sales Tax Handbook estimates the average price of a pack of cigarettes in Minnesota at $8.40. Of that, Minnesotans currently pay $3.67 in taxes per pack of 20.

The ordinance would limit the number of tobacco licenses in the city to 150, down from the current 190 licensed sellers in the city.

While no stores would lose their licenses, new retailers would need to wait for licenses to become available before they can sell products.

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The proposal cites research from Hamline University that states capping the number of retailers in an area is one way to limit the availability of tobacco products.

Penalties for selling tobacco products to underage people would also increase under the ordinance. The first instance of selling to someone under 21 will result in a $400 fine as opposed to the current $200 fine.

The penalty for the second instance of selling to an underage person will increase from a $400 fine to a $1,000 fine. 

Council Members Amy Brendmoen, Mitra Jalali, Jane L. Prince, Dai Thao, Chris Tolbert, Nelsie Yang and Rebecca Noecker are sponsors of the proposal. 

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