Robbinsdale to have Sept. 26 pubic hearing on proposed tobacco ordinance changes

The Robbinsdale City Council is contemplating several potential amendments to its tobacco policy. (File photo)

Raising legal age from 18 to 21 is among the suggested amendments

By LACI GAGLIANO
[email protected]

The Robbinsdale City Council is reviewing the city’s tobacco regulations, specifically as it relates to the substance’s accessibility to minors. The council last reviewed the regulations in 2014, following 2013 updates to policies after the introduction of e-cigarettes to the market.

City Manager Marcia Glick said the county’s health department periodically contacts the city to discuss possible gaps in regulation specific to new products that arrive on the market, and to address youth access to those products. In May, the county contacted city staff after Edina increased its age limit for purchasing tobacco products

The council entered discussions about potential ordinance updates in June. In mid-July, the council authorized enlisting the aid of the Public Law Center to review the city’s current tobacco ordinances and to help prepare the suggested changes. The council has since met with tobacco vendors to discuss the proposed updates, and will soon host a public hearing about the issue.

The suggested amendments to the city’s tobacco regulations, intended to reduce youth access to products, include:

– Updating the license application to include a section that collects information to investigate whether the applicant has had previous sales violations related to licensed products, which would add a basis for denying a license for offenders;
– Updating the city’s code to conform to state statutes;
– Considering raising the city’s legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21;
– Restricting the sale of flavored products (excluding menthol, mint and wintergreen) to vendors who only sell products to ages 21 and older, and those who derive at least 90 percent of their sales from licensed products;
– Requiring a minimum price and package size for cigars, with proposals for a five-pack minimum at $13, or a single cigar at $4;
– Requiring child-resistant packaging for liquids that contain nicotine;
– Deferring to state law for underage use, possession, or purchase and eliminating local penalties;
– Adding a penalty for anyone underage using false identification.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the council chambers at City Hall, 4100 Lakeview Ave. N. The public is welcome to attend and voice opinions and concerns.