Minneapolis City Council approves price hike for tobacco products

Minneapolis City Council approves price hike for tobacco products

Minneapolis City Council approves price hike for tobacco products

The price of a pack of cigarettes in Minneapolis will soon cost around twice as much for some.

The Minneapolis City Council formally approved an amendment to the city’s commercial tobacco ordinance on Thursday.

RELATED: Pricier packs of cigarettes possible in Minneapolis

Most notably, it sets a $15 minimum price for packs of cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco and snuff, but it also ends price discounts and coupons for the products, closes sampling loopholes and increases penalties for violations of the ordinance. The city says that minimum price will be one of the most expensive in the country when it takes effect upon being signed by the mayor, which usually takes three to five days.

Data cited by the city says every 10% price increase for cigarettes reduces adult smoking by 3-5% and youth smoking by 6-7%.

“These changes will protect youth and communities from color from tobacco industry targeting,” Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw said. “Tobacco is still the leading cause of death, and I am proud that our city is taking this important public health step.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey supported the amendment and praised Vetaw for being “a tireless public health advocate in Minneapolis for years.”

The city has taken several steps throughout the year to curb smoking, dating as far back as 2004 when it was one of the first cities in the state to ban smoking in most public places.

However, those actions also impact businesses.

Eddy Merlin, who works at Smoker Friendly in Minneapolis, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last week, “We’ve lost a lot of business here due to that.”

Pat McKone, director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, “We congratulate the Minneapolis City Council for passing a policy that raises the price of a pack of cigarettes to $15, closes loopholes in their current ordinance and sets an example for other communities. We will work together with our partners to support those looking for services to quit.”

The Association for Nonsmoker-MN said:

“The Association for Nonsmokers-MN (ANSR) fully supports the Minneapolis City Council’s decision to put the health of people over the profits of the tobacco industry. By ending the use of tobacco coupons and price promotions and setting a minimum price of $15 for cigarettes and chewing tobacco, the city will prevent youth initiation and help tobacco users who want to quit to do so. It is well-documented that when tobacco prices go up, initiation and use go down. The tobacco industry has myriad ways to undermine price-focused tobacco policies and they spend billions of dollars each year doing so. They send coupons in the mail, promote “Buy One, Get One” deals at nearly every convenience store, and even send time-sensitive app-based coupons to tobacco users when they are near a store that sells tobacco products. These tactics–just a small piece of what the industry does on a daily basis–underscore the importance of this action.

“We talked with people and asked if they ever bought something they didn’t need and didn’t really want because it was such a good deal? Everyone said they had. One guy said he has a closet full of shoes he doesn’t need. Two for one deals and money off may make someone think they are getting a good deal. That is probably not a huge problem if it is shoes, but when it is an addictive product and people are trying to quit, it is a big deal. Minneapolis took a big step forward in stopping the tobacco industry from using price to get people to start using tobacco and undermine people’s resolution to quit.”