By Anne Holzman
The Lauderdale City Council will hold a public hearing Jan. 12 on proposed updates to the town’sa tobacco sales license ordinance to reflect new state and federal regulations.
Businesses that sell tobacco products in Lauderdale also have asked the council to reconsider the existing ban on selling flavored tobacco, which the city instituted in 2018 along with raising the purchase age to 21.
January marks the end of a one-year moratorium on tobacco licenses put in place during the ordinance update process.
The Minnesota Legislature raised the purchase age to 21 last spring but has yet to ban sales of flavored tobaccos. The current Lauderdale ordinance forbids sales of flavored tobaccos except in adults-only tobacco shops.
Eddie Siouffy, owner of Super USA at Eustis Street and Larpenteur Avenue, submitted a statement to the council on Nov. 3 that reads in part, “When the City Council adopted the flavor ban ordinance, we lost a significant amount of our customers, sales and potential sales.”
Siouffy said he might want to open an adults-only tobacco shop inside his store. “In the city of Lauderdale, most of our customers are middle-aged, working-class adults,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Aldo Sicoli, superintendent of Roseville schools, submitted a memo saying he was “alarmed” by a 2019 survey indicating an increase in students using tobacco products.
“Our students are becoming addicted, which endangers their very futures,” Sicoli wrote, adding, “The tobacco companies have targeted African American communities for decades with menthol promotions and they have succeeded. Of African Americans who smoke, over 80 percent smoke menthol.”
City administrator Heather Butkowski said in recent meetings the council has heard from various stakeholders.
“The council reviewed updates to the ordinance so that it will conform to new federal and state tobacco laws,” Butkowski wrote. “Additionally, the council discussed whether to keep the current flavored tobacco restrictions, expand them to apply to tobacco shops, or relax the restrictions to allow the sale of mint and menthol tobacco products at the request of the current tobacco license holders.”
Anne Holzman is a Bugle freelancer who covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale news.