The Carlton County Board of Commissioners removed language from an ordinance that would have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, cigars, price promotion and coupon redemption at its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 24.
The board approved an ordinance in December to raise the legal age people can purchase tobacco products to 21 and ban flavored tobacco and vaping products in the county. However, the commissioners did not establish final details or set a date for it to take effect until Monday. The ordinance will take effect on May 1, 2020.
Officials decided to take another look at the ban on flavored tobacco products in the ordinance after hearing from local business owners and community members.
Commissioners Tom Proulx, District 3, and Dick Brenner, District 1, said they did not understand why the ban of flavored products was necessary if people under 21 years of age are no longer allowed to purchase the products.
“You have to be 21 to buy tobacco anyway, that was our goal,” Proulx said. “I don't know why we are singling the flavors out.”
Carlton County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said the purpose of the flavored tobacco ban was to make access more difficult for local youth. Research indicates any tobacco products with flavors are more likely to get teenagers addicted, he said, which is why officials included language prohibiting anything other than products with the taste or smell of tobacco.
“If you read the studies that have been done, anything with flavors are dangerous to kids,” Genereau said. “If it's getting sold publicly, kids are going to try to get their hands on it. If they get their hands on it and smoke that stuff they are far more likely to get addicted. I could not find a study that contradicted that.”
The ordinance and its finalization comes shortly after federal legislation raising the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 years old went into effect. The federal measure was put in place on Dec. 20, 2019, according to the Food and Drug Administration website.
However, the ordinance is necessary to outline rules for enforcement in Carlton County, said Laurie Ketola, county attorney.
When the changes are completed, the ordinance will be posted on the Carlton County website.