Minneapolis just made it harder to buy menthol cigarettes

The move was taken to "help protect young people's health."
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The sale of menthol tobacco will be further restricted in Minneapolis after the city council voted to limit its availability to only a few dozen stores

Menthol, mint and wintergreen tobacco can currently be bought from 318 convenience stores and other outlets in the city.

But under the ordinance passed on Friday, its availability will be reduced to just 23 adult-only tobacco product shops and 24 liquor stores. The new rules kick in Aug. 1, 2018.

Why the city did this

The move has been taken, the city says, to prevent children and teenagers from getting hooked on nicotine at an early age. Menthol tobacco is popular among younger users because it masks the taste and harshness of cigarette smoke, according to the city.

This means menthol tobacco will now be regulated in the same way as other flavored tobacco, after undercover operations found 12 percent of the city's tobacco stores sold products to people under the age of 18.

Nationally, around 44 percent of high school smokers use menthol products.

"We know that menthol masks the harsh taste of tobacco, making it more tolerable for people,” said Council Member Cam Gordon in a press release. "We believe that making it harder to get menthol tobacco will prevent some people starting and getting addicted, which will improve the health of this generation and the next."

As well as young people, the Star Tribune also notes menthol products have historically been marketed to black smokers. And by passing the ordinance the city hopes to reduce some of the health disparities seen today.

But the newspaper says opposition has come from retailers and tobacco companies who argue it will lead to an "underground tobacco market" and the criminalization of menthol smokers.

More on menthol tobacco

The City of Minneapolis notes that the menthol chemical compound is taken from the peppermint or the corn mint plant, or created synthetically.

It's used in cigarettes, and indeed in medicine, to relieve throat irritation because of its numbing qualities. 

Studies have found that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, with the New Scientist reporting menthol activates more "nicotinic receptors" in the brain, which makes it harder to quit.

It's also found that the menthol flavor encourages smokers to take deeper drags, drawing in greater amounts of nicotine, NPR reports.

Next Up

Flickr - State Patrol Minnesota trooper - uniform crop

State Patrol squad sustains major damage in crash at I-35 ramp in Sandstone

At least one person is injured, but we don't yet know who or how seriously.

school lunch

Free meals for kids available at 2,500 sites in Minnesota this summer

The state has teamed up with the USDA to provide healthy foods for all children in Minnesota.

695 grand avenue

St. Paul planners gives OK to 5-story development at Dixie's on Grand

The property would include four commercial spaces, but not Dixie's on Grand.

Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 12.22.13 PM

Family identifies man who died at Menards in Golden Valley

Three people were "temporarily detained" at the Menards on Thursday, police say.

hovland 1

Gallery: Home near the Boundary Waters on the market for $1.1 million

The home's wall of windows affords views of McFarland Lake and the wilderness.

Pixabay - firefighter helmet

Firefighters find body in rubble after Princeton home explosion

Two others were also injured by the blast and fire Thursday.

Flickr - campfire

No campfires allowed in BWCAW or Superior National Forest

The campfire ban applies to all campsites in the forest, including those in the BWCAW.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, July 23

The newest data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Related

Minneapolis is trying to ban menthol cigarettes

But convenience owners say it will kill their businesses.

Study: Smoking 50 cigarettes creates a potential cancer-starting mutation

It's been proven beyond doubt that smoking tobacco is harmful to human health, but a new study has put some figures on how cigarettes cause cancer by altering smokers' DNA.

Teen vaping is now an 'epidemic,' feds say

The FDA commission says the trend is 'deeply disturbing.'

Sorry, millennials, it's harder than ever to buy a home in the Twin Cities

Final sale prices have now risen for 64 consecutive months