To the editor:
The Edina City Council is considering an ordinance that would set a discriminatory double standard for the sale of legal adult products.
The proposal would usher in a new era of prohibition by banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars, pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes to adults who are 21 and older.
Most consumer products are flavored and for virtually every flavored tobacco product there is an identical flavored liquor product. The double standard arises because while it is considering banning flavored tobacco products, there is no similar proposal to ban flavored alcohol products.
To make matters worse, the city owns and operates all liquor stores in Edina. On the one hand, the city allows itself to sell every kind of flavored alcoholic beverage in its liquor stores. On the other hand, the city is proposing that privately owned retail stores be prohibited from selling flavored tobacco products. With both liquor and tobacco being adult-only products, allowing one kind of adult-only product to continue to be sold while banning the sale of another adult-only product is the very definition of a double standard.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 61.1% of Minnesota adults drink alcohol. In contrast, only 14.5% of Minnesota adults smoke. Is this a situation where the Edina City Council wants to avoid offending almost two-thirds of Edina voters who buy alcohol while taking away the ability of a minority of Edina adult residents from being able to buy tobacco products? That is the very definition of discrimination.
Convenience stores and service stations rely on gasoline sales and tobacco sales to remain in business. Without tobacco sales, the business model for these retailers no longer works. And given the significant downturn in gas, snack, and beverage sales at these stores during the pandemic, a total ban on every flavored tobacco product will force your local convenience store and gas stations out of business.
The city council needs to take the flavored tobacco product ban off the table or risk destroying local businesses by enacting a law based on a discriminatory double standard.
Executive Director, Minnesota Service Station and Convenience Store Association