Ramsey County Council supports St. Paul’s Tobacco Control Act that includes a $10 minimum on cigarette packs – Twin Cities
The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners has given its support for more anti-smoking initiatives in Saint Paul and at the county level.
Resolution commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday supporting a minimum price for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and banning redemption of coupons and in-store discounts on all Ramsey County tobacco products. The resolution is intended to help guide and support an ordinance introduced in St. Paul this month and any similar laws that may emerge in other cities and towns in the county.
In an ongoing effort to eliminate tobacco sales to young people and other vulnerable groups, St. Paul City Council is expected to consider on October 27 the sweeping tobacco control law It would reduce the number of tobacco licenses available in the city, set a $10 minimum price for packs of cigarettes and ban cigarette coupons and price promotions, including e-cigarette coupons.
Keeping tobacco prices high reduces its use, especially among young adults and low-income smokers, said Celina Salvin, a health educator at St Paul Ramsay Public Health. She said studies have shown that a $10 per pack retail price and the regulation of discounts can lead to a reduction in more than 637,000 smokers aged 12 to 17 years.
She said people who receive coupons and tobacco promotions are more likely to start using tobacco and less likely to quit. Discounting prices can lure tobacco users as signage at a gas station, coupons on the back of grocery store receipts, or through mailings, text messages or phone app notifications, some of which expire in minutes, “encouraging the purchase of snap judgments,” she said.
Paul’s proposed ordinance has the support of more than 40 local and state organizations, according to county officials.
But the prospect of creating a minimum package price of $10 in St. Paul and possibly elsewhere is likely to draw scrutiny from the retail industry, given that state law already sets minimum costs by brand and sub-brand. The lengthened state formula takes into account the manufacturer’s price, cigarette stamp duty and sales tax, the wholesale cost of doing business and the retail cost of doing business.
County commissioners previously took action to regulate tobacco and smoking. In 2015, they adopted the county’s Clean Indoor Air Act, and two years later they backed city restrictions that now allow menthol tobacco products to be sold only in tobacco stores.