The Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in convenience stores, allowing such products to only be sold in a small number of tobacco shops.
The ban, approved Friday, will go into effect Jan. 1. The vote followed several weeks of debate between anti-tobacco advocates who argued that flavored products were designed to attract young smokers and shop owners who fear a significant hit to their businesses.
Several council members said their votes were prompted in part by activism by young people, including several who packed the council chambers Friday in matching green T-shirts that read: "The tobacco industry targets youth."
"I think this is one step we can take that will help prevent serious health impacts to people throughout Minnesota," said Council Member Cam Gordon, who introduced the plan.
The federal government banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, but other products continue to be sold with fruity flavors like grape, cherry and pineapple. City officials say that makes them more appealing to underage teens, who are getting ahold of them despite existing age restrictions — according to a study of local youth.
Staff writer Eric Roper contributed to this report.
Above: Flavored cigars were for sale at Loon Grocery and Deli in Minneapolis last month. Photo: Kaylee Everly/Star Tribune