Two cities took steps to protect the health of youth and all residents from the harms of tobacco.
The Fridley City Council voted 4-1 in September to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, to adult-only tobacco stores.
Menthol-, candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products are attractive to youth, and the tobacco industry uses these flavors to hook a new generation of users, resulting in addiction, disease and death. Eighty percent of youth tobacco users use flavored tobacco.
Additionally, the Fridley council voted to update its tobacco ordinance to meet state requirements that raise the tobacco sales age to 21.
New Hope city council voted in August to restrict the sale of candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products and also updated the city’s tobacco language to meet state minimums to set the minimum age to purchase tobacco at 21. The ordinance will cap the total number of tobacco licenes at their current number of 21.
Like many local decision makers, Fridley Mayor Scott Lund said he preferred leaving these issues to state legislators but didn’t let that stop him and the council from protecting Fridley residents now.
“I would be much happier if the state would take this on as a statewide issue,” Lund said. “But, as with most of the things … in reality, it doesn’t happen from the top side down. It ends up at the grassroots. It happens in cities all over the country, just like it is here (tonight) in Fridley.
“I have turned from thinking it’s an overreach, but I think we owe it, as council persons, to help our city, and this is a help to our young people. If not now, when?”
Fridley council member Ann Bolkcom said during the meeting it was important to protect youth now.