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Shoreview votes to restrict flavored tobacco

The Shoreview City Council showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of its residents on Nov. 21, 2016. The City Council voted unanimously to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to one adult-only tobacco store. “Shoreview is showing leadership, as it has over the years,” Mayor Sandy Martin said in the meeting. “We are (making) a good leadership decision and hopefully many more communities will follow us.” Shoreview joins Saint Paul and Minneapolis in restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products. Other places to restrict flavored tobacco sales include Providence, R.I., and New York City. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration banned flavoring in cigarettes but didn’t extend this to other tobacco products. Shoreview’s action closes that loophole. The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting young people with flavored tobacco.  Katie Engman, program director for the Ramsey Tobacco Coalition, said she is excited to see Shoreview take action. “Shoreview has proven itself to be a leader willing to stand up to the tobacco industry’s blatant attempts at hooking kids with candy-flavored tobacco,” Engman said. “Shoreview has always shown strong leadership and was one of the first cities to ban the sale of tobacco by vending machines. The city continues to showcase a long-term commitment to creating a healthy community. Shoreview’s leadership and vision make it a great place. We hope this encourages other communities to stand up to the tobacco industry and protect youth.” The Ramsey Tobacco Coalition is a program of the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR), a Saint Paul-based non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the human and economic costs of tobacco. <>Meghan McFarling,...

Youth and the fight against the tobacco industry, Part 2

This is the second of two stories on youth partners written in collaboration with Dr. Lucia Pawlowski’s Community Writing for Social Justice Class at the University of St. Thomas. By Claire Rossez, Special to ANSR Flavored tobacco is a personal topic for William: His younger sister once told him she wanted to try some but did not know how to get it.  He said, “I just knew my mom wouldn’t [let her have it]…and I knew it was not for kids.” William’s sister was about seven years old at the time, a startling demonstration of how the tobacco companies’ marketing pulls in even young children.  This experience showed William how being a youth who is targeted by the tobacco industry means it is up to him to lead the fight against the industry. At first glance, William seems to be a typical 12-year-old. He just finished the  sixth grade, is part of the stage crew in his school’s musical, and likes to get involved in the community. The work he does and the wisdom he possesses, however, are what set him apart from most kids, and adults too. William works with a group called Vision in Living Life: Change is Possible (VILL), a local youth leadership program that promotes growth through community engagement. It is one of ANSR’s partners. William volunteers to raise awareness in the Twin Cities and to advocate against smoking and the tobacco industry.  He is so passionate about combatting the harms of tobacco, and has twice gone to the State Capitol to speak to his legislators. “At the Capitol, I [talked] about how flavored tobacco...

Youth and the fight against the tobacco industry

This is the first of two stories on youth partners written in collaboration with Dr. Lucia Pawlowski’s Community Writing for Social Justice Class at the University of St. Thomas. By Sam Heggem, Special to ANSR The tobacco industry has long targeted youth through deceptive, insidious ad campaigns. The tobacco industry recognizes vulnerability and capitalizes on this to create life-long smokers. However, this is not a one-way battle. The same youth who have been subjected to the manipulative campaigns of the tobacco industry are now fighting back. Starnisha McClellan is a longtime member of Breathe Free North, a tobacco education program centered in North Minneapolis at NorthPoint Health & Welness. The group focuses largely on reducing the exposure of youth to tobacco products. She and Breathe Free North have been actively involved in the recent policy work. Starnisha helped lead the charge in 2015 to get restrictions on flavored tobacco products passed in Minneapolis. She helped gather data to strengthen the argument for getting this proposal passed. She also testified in front of the Minneapolis City Council in May 2015. As a result of the work of Starnisha and Breathe Free North, as of January 2016, flavored tobacco products are limited to being sold in 18-over tobacco shops only. Starnisha has been an activist since she was 11. Now 19 and graduated from high school, Starnisha is pursuing her passion and working for Breathe Free North full-time. Starnisha has a personal stake in the fight against tobacco control, as her family has been affected by the tobacco industry’s campaign of targeting youth. Starnisha’s younger sister smokes cigarettes and has been...

Day at the Capitol 2016

Many advocates joined ANSR at the State Capitol in Saint Paul on May 3, 2016, for the Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation “Tobacco is Still a Problem” Day. These advocates learned about top tobacco-control issues, and then met with their respective legislators to educate them on these issues. Here are some of the photos from the day. <>Seventeen youth from Tartan High's Students Against Destructive Decisions group and John Glenn Middle School's Support Our School group attended the Capitol and participated in discussions with their...

Kick Butts Day 2016

<>John Glenn Middle School students put up this cup sign letting everyone know how dangerous tobacco is     March 16 marked yet another Kick Butts Day, and thousands of youth, teachers and health advocates in the United States spoke up against the tobacco industry. Locally, ANSR worked with two schools from ISD #622, as well as the ALMAS group at Henry Sibley High. ANSR also partnered with Minneapolis MAD DADS and Southside Urban Coalition for a Quit Cold Turkey event in Minneapolis. The various groups took a stand against being targeted by the industry. John Glenn Middle School and Tartan Senior High participated in events for ISD 622. The ALMAS (Anglos Latinos Motivated to Succeed) are in Mendota Heights. Youth at ISD 622 schools educated their peers on the dangers of tobacco, including flavored tobacco.  Students learned about the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes. Students at John Glenn signed postcards to the Saint Paul City Council, thanking them for restricting the sale of flavored tobacco. In Minneapolis, the groups encouraged people to trade in their pack of cigarettes for a turkey sandwich. There was a live radio remote on KMOJ-FM promoting the event and discussing the dangers of smoking. There was live music during the event. The event educated the public about the benefits of quitting smoking. The event featured numerous giveaways for participants and also touted the latest contest sponsored by QuitPlan Services, the state’s help line to quit...

Saint Paul votes to restrict sale of flavored tobacco, raise price of cigars

  The Saint Paul City Council showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of its residents on Jan. 6. The City Council voted unanimously to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores and increase the minimum price for single cigars to $2.60 each. All cigars sold in packages of four or less must be priced at $2.60 each, while cigars packaged at four or more must be at least $10.40. “It’s a big deal that we’re going to make it harder for youth to access these products,” council president Russ Stark said. Saint Paul joins Minneapolis in restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products. Other places to restrict flavored tobacco sales include Providence, R.I., and New York City. Saint Paul was one of the first cities in the state to set a minimum price for cigars, but the ordinance will raise the price to $2.60 to match surrounding cities. “I think this is a good ordinance that sends a strong message to the tobacco industry,” said Councilmember Dai Thao, one of five co-sponsors of the ordinance. “We can’t trade the health of future generations for the tobacco industry’s profit.” The room turned green as Councilmember Amy Brendmoen, who first introduced the ordinance, had supporters of the ordinance stand up. Most of the advocates sported a green shirt that said, “The tobacco industry targets youth with flavored tobacco … but there’s nothing sweet about tobacco.” The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting young people with cheap and flavored tobacco. Alicia Leizinger, from the Ramsey Tobacco Coalition, said she is thrilled Saint Paul...

Richfield sets minimum price for cigars

  Richfield joined a growing list of Minnesota cities that have established a minimum price for flavored cigars. The Richfield City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 10, 2015, to set a minimum price of $2.60 per stick for non-premium cigars and set a minimum of $10.40 for packs of four or more. “I’m very pleased to see this moving forward,” Mayor Debbie Goettel said during the council meeting. “It’s in the best interest of Richfield’s youth and health.” The new ordinance brings Richfield’s tobacco licensing ordinance up to state minimums and puts into place pioneering policies that will protect youth from the harms of tobacco. This policy adds Richfield to a growing list of cities that have set minimum prices for the sale of non-premium cigars including: Brooklyn Center, Saint Paul, Bloomington, Maplewood and Minneapolis. Councilmember Michael Howard said. “I think this is the ordinance that really sort of gets at access for kids.” Additionally, the updated ordinance prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in city-owned parks and other recreational facilities; prohibits the sale of any electronic cigarette liquid that is not in child-resistant packaging and prohibits indoor smoking and sampling of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, except in establishments that are already licensed by the City. “This new ordinance will help protect Richfield youth from becoming lifelong tobacco users,” said Kari Oldfield, Legal and Community Outreach Coordinator for ANSR. “We are proud of the Richfield Advisory Board of Health and City Council for taking on this important issue and protecting the health of the residents and visitors of the city.” This new ordinance goes into effect on Dec. 19,...

Ramsey County regulates e-cigarettes, adds public entrances setback

  The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners continued its strong leadership regarding the health and safety of its residents when it voted 6-1 on Sept. 22, to include electronic cigarettes in its clean indoor air policy and prohibit use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes within 25 feet of building entrances. By including e-cigarettes in the clean indoor air policy, county leaders have established use of e-cigarettes will not be allowed anywhere conventional cigarettes are not allowed, such as work places, bars and restaurants. In 2005, Ramsey County showed leadership in passing one of the state’s first smoking bans for bars and restaurants. Two years later, the Minnesota legislature enacted the statewide Freedom to Breathe law, protecting all Minnesotans from the harms of secondhand smoke. “Ramsey County has taken a stand to ensure our residents, workers and visitors aren’t needlessly exposed to tobacco and e-cigarette use when they are in indoor public spaces, or simply entering and leaving buildings,” said Jim McDonough, Chair of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. “Hopefully, the state will follow suit and recognize the need to protect all Minnesotans from the harms of secondhand smoke and e-cigarette emissions.” In addition to McDonough, Commissioner Blake Huffman, Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire and Commissioner Rafael Ortega spoke up in support of the ordinance. Commissioner Huffman lauded the “wonderfully diverse” community advocates who spoke at the public hearing on Sept. 8, while Commissioner McGuire concurred. Commissioner Ortega addressed the adverse health impact of electronic cigarettes, which emit an aerosol laced with nicotine, harmful chemicals and metal particles. “The bottom line is if there is any uncertainty about the impact it...

Minneapolis restricts flavored tobacco products

  Minneapolis City Council restricts flavored tobacco products The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously on July 10 to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products, other than menthol, to adult-only tobacco shops. The Council also increased the price of cigars to $2.60 per stick. Four cities in Minnesota, including Maplewood, Bloomington, Saint Paul and Brooklyn Center, previously adopted policies that regulate the price of cheap cigars. However, no other Minnesota cities have restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products. Nationally, New York City and Providence, RI, have similar policies in place that served as a model for the Minneapolis ordinance. The new policy means that only about 15 of the city’s 400-plus tobacco vendors will be allowed to sell candy-flavored tobacco products. In order to sell these products, the stores must derive at least 90 percent of their revenue from tobacco and be adult-only at all times. Council Members Blong Yang (Ward 5) and Cam Gordon (Ward 2) co-authored the ordinance in response to input from youth in the Minneapolis Youth Congress and the Breathe Free North program at NorthPoint Health & Wellness. The youth said these products are appealing to young people in their communities. “We heard loud and clear from Minneapolis youth that flavored tobacco products are what most kids use when they start smoking,” Council Member Cam Gordon said. “We believe that limiting access to these products will help prevent youth from becoming addicted to nicotine and dramatically improve the health of future generations.” Opponents of the policy included convenience store owners and chains, such as Holiday, SuperAmerica, Bobby & Steve’s, retailer associations, and Altria the...
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