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Minneapolis considers keeping flavored cigars out of convenience stores

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Chocolate flavored cigarillos may be moved out of reach of youngsters, under a change Minneapolis is considering.

A city council committee took up an amendment to the tobacco ordinance Monday that would prohibit convenience stores and grocery stores from selling flavored tobacco. If the change is adopted, only specialty shops that do not admit anyone under 18 could sell flavored cigars, cigararillos, and e-cigarettes.

A fact sheet distributed by the city health department last year cited an explosion of new tobacco products in flavors such as grape, vanilla, orange, chocolate, and cherry – with some flavored by the same chemicals used in LifeSavers, Jolly Ranchers, and Kool-Aid.

Health officials say the flavors are designed to get young people hooked on tobacco. KARE 11 notes that teenagers themselves are at the forefront in the push to change city rules.

KARE says members of the Minneapolis Youth Congress and an anti-smoking youth group called Breathe Free North surveyed their peers and shared the results with the city council.

Opposition at Monday's hearing came from convenience store owners, who said they feel unfairly singled out by the amendment, KSTP reports.

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An industry trade group says that around the country tobacco sales made up 40 percent of the sales at convenience stores in 2012, MPR News reports.

The president of two Minneapolis EZ Stop stores told council members Monday that 20 percent of adults smoke and stores should be allowed to sell a legal product to them, MPR says.

The city council's health committee scheduled a vote on the amendment in two weeks, with MPR reporting several members say they will support the change.

You can watch the full committee hearing below

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