Minneapolis Smokers Brace for Highest Prices in U.S. at $15 per Pack

Minnesota‘s most populous city has made the controversial move to raise minimum cigarette prices, making prices the highest in the U.S.

A Unanimous Vote

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In a bid to improve public health, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously for an ordinance that will raise the minimum retail prices for cigarettes.

The Highest in the Nation

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It’s set to be a shock for city smokers, who will now be paying the highest government-mandated minimum price in the country, at a minimum of $15 per pack.

Improving Health Outcomes for City Residents

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City staff and lawmakers believe the ordinance will promote public health by encouraging smokers to quit, which will, in turn, help them to save money, both due to savings on cigarette purchases and by avoiding smoking-related illnesses.

“For the Greater Public Good”

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“This is for the greater public good of our community and our residents,” one Council Member, Linnea Palmisano, told WCCO Radio Minneapolis.

Making the Hard Changes

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“I know it’s easy for me to sit up here and say that as a non-smoker,” she continued. “But it’s the truth. The only way we’re going to break our dependence on tobacco is if we make some really hard changes.”

Department of Health Chime In

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Minnesota Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Heidi Ritchie confirmed the ordinance as a good move for public health measures, telling CBS Minnesota that it would be highly effective in preventing illness and death.

Prevention Is the Best Cure

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“Due to the addictive nature of commercial tobacco products, it’s far more effective to lower tobacco deaths if we prevent people from ever starting to use them,” Ritchie explained.

“Another Step In Saving Lives”

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She added, “We are optimistic that the new amendments are another step in saving lives and building healthier communities in our city.”

From $10 to $15

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Minimum prices have been raised from the previous $10 per pack. The ordinance includes other commercial tobacco products but does not include e-cigarettes, which was of concern to some council members.

Concerns Over E-Cigarettes

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“While that might not be the intention, it does feel like we’re signaling that e-cigs are basically the preferred nicotine of choice or product, despite them also having negative health impacts,” said Councilmember Robin Wosley. “And knowing a lot of young people also use vapes and e-cigs as well.”

No Discounts or Coupons

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The law will also prohibit retailers from circumventing the price changes with store discounts or coupons directly from cigarette companies, which can be found online.

Harsher Penalties

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Free samples are also against the law, and tobacco sellers who violate the ordinance will face increased penalties.

Local Businesses Aren’t Happy

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However, some local businesses have spoken out against the decision, arguing that it could steer visiting consumers and people who are passing through away from Minneapolis retailers.

They also claimed that businesses had been left out of the meetings on the ordinance.

Not Included in Decision-making

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“They haven’t included the business community in any decision-making process,” one gas station owner complained to WCCO News.

“More Reasons Not to Stop”

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“It gives consumers more reasons not to stop in Minneapolis and stop at outlying suburbs,” they added.

Will It Even Work?

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Others argued that the law would not stop people from smoking and would instead be another hit to their household savings alongside the increasing cost of living.

Another Step Against Tobacco

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It is simply the next step for a city that has made continuous legal strides to limit tobacco consumption. In 2015, Minneapolis passed an ordinance restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products, assuring they would be available exclusively at tobacco-only retailers.

Raising minimum Age

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Three years later, in 2018, the city moved to raise the minimum age required to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, making it the seventh city in Minnesota to do so.

Soon to Be Signed

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The new price rises will be applied in stores across the city once Mayor Jacob Frey formally signs the ordinance into law this week.

Mayor Gives His Support

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Mayor Frey has made it clear that he supports the ordinance and its author, Councilmember LaTrisha Vetaw. He says, “This ordinance prioritizes the health and well-being of our residents, and I’m proud to stand alongside her in supporting its passage.”

The post Minneapolis Smokers Brace for Highest Prices in U.S. at $15 per Pack first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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