A city in the US state of Minneapolis is considering an anti-tobacco ordinance that includes a $10 minimum fee hike on cigarette packs sold in the city limits.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The city council for St. Paul, Minnesota, is expected to implement a “sweeping anti-tobacco ordinance that would reduce the number of tobacco [sales] licenses” in the city and would set a fixed price of $10 as a minimum for cigarettes.
According to local news reports, this measure could amount to one of the most aggressive non-health-focused tobacco control measures ever. Only the cities of New York and Providence, R.I., have adopted such severe pricing models for cigarette packs.
Note, the prospect of creating a minimum pack price of $10 is likely to draw scrutiny from advocates from the retail industry. State law in Minnesota currently sets minimum costs by brand and sub-brand for cigarettes, and the proposal to increase the minimum pack price to $10 could contradict existing tax laws.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the state has a cigarette pricing formula in place that accounts for the manufacturing price, a cigarette stamp fee, a sales tax, wholesale costs of doing business, and the overall retail cost of doing such business.
“We’ve been working on this for almost two years,” Jeanne Weigum, the president of the Minnesota chapter of the Association of Nonsmokers, told the Pioneer Press. “What started out primarily as a price discounting ordinance pretty much has become sort of an omnibus non-smoking ordinance.
“Some of it is pretty groundbreaking,” Weigum added. Speaking a very different tune, the Minnesota Retailers Association president Bruce Nustad released a statement saying that the proposal is “ill-timed” given the competition from online retailers and the regulatory monstrosity impacting tobacco and nicotine products.
“It is probably the most far-reaching local ordinance regulating tobacco that I have seen in a long time, or ever,” said Nustad.
The city council is expected to vote on the proposal in the coming week. St. Paul is the state capital city of Minnesota and is one of the “Twin Cities” with Minneapolis, the state’s largest city.