Minneapolis – The Minneapolis City Council showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of its residents on Aug. 4 by restricting the sale of menthol tobacco products to adult-only tobacco and liquor stores.

The council passed the ordinance 10-2. Council Members Cam Gordon and Lisa Bender co-authored the ordinance, which is designed to reduce youth smoking and combat tobacco industry targeting.

“The community, especially many of our youth and a wide range of community members, asked us to do more to address the unique dangers of menthol tobacco,” Gordon, chair of the Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee, said. “The deadly consequences of tobacco use are undeniable, and limiting youth access to menthol tobacco is one thing we can do to prevent some people from starting and getting addicted, which will improve the health of future generations.”

The tobacco industry has targeted the African American community for five decades with menthol tobacco products. The industry also highly targets youth, women and the LGBTQ community.

“I am proud to support our youth in their effort to restrict access to menthol tobacco in order to reduce the likelihood they will start using tobacco products and ultimately suffer from preventable problems, including heart disease and cancer,” Bender said. “We know the marketing of these products is targeted to young people, specifically black youth, and we’ve heard loud and clear from these young people that they do not want these products readily available in their communities.”

The ordinance had tremendous community support behind it, including 50-plus organizations involved in the Minnesota Menthol Coalition, as well as numerous African American Community leaders. Sen. Jeffrey Hayden and Reps. Rena Moran and Ilhan Omar supported the ordinance.

The community was passionate in placing the health of residents over profits for the tobacco industry.

“Our health is not for sale,” said Juan Jackson, Board Chair for NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center and Board Secretary for the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network. “This menthol restriction is 20 years overdue. There is nothing cool or soothing about a cigarette or making money from harming our youth. We thank our elected officials who’ve chosen to follow the communities’ leadership on this problem.”

The ordinance will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2018.