To the editor:
As a longtime Bloomington resident and Bloomington-based wholesale tobacco distributor, I support the retailers who are mad as hell about the city’s proposed flavored tobacco ban and are not going to take it anymore.
Retailers have put up large signs questioning why the council would even consider the Bloomington Board of Health’s recommendation to ban all legal flavored tobacco products.
These hardworking retailers know their very existence is at stake and they are not the problem. Rather, retailers are a scapegoat for the Board of Health’s over the top total ban.
The real problems are with youth vaping and youth drinking. A 2019 Minnesota Health Department survey shows that nearly 17% of Bloomington 11th-graders vape and that 26% drink. The same survey showed that less than 4 percent of high schoolers were smoking or using tobacco. Why is a tobacco ban being considered? Why not just focus on vaping products? And what about the youth drinking problem?
If the health board and council are relying on youth vaping numbers to ban all flavored tobacco products, then they should also propose banning every kind of flavored alcohol. The law does not tolerate hypocrisy.
This ban will also result in the city and school district collecting less in property taxes because stores will be devalued. The devaluation will be magnified because a current owner would also be prohibited from transferring the tobacco license to a new owner.
To focus on the real problem, the council should expand on what the Food and Drug Administration did in 2020. The FDA banned flavored pod-based electronic cigarettes (except tobacco and menthol flavors preferred by adults) because these e-cigarettes were attractive to youth. What the FDA did not do, and the city should consider doing, is banning flavored disposable e-cigarettes, (except tobacco and menthol,) because these disposables are what the kids turned to when pod-based e-cigarettes were banned.