Ban on Tobacco Sales a Blow to Convenience Stores

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The Duluth City Council is currently considering an ordinance banning the sales of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. This could be another blow to convenience store owners in the City of Duluth. Some businesses may not survive.

It was almost a year ago that Duluth City Councilors voted to ban sales of menthol tobacco products in local convenience stores. This ordinance has resulted in a loss of sales for convenience stores (not just tobacco sales but gas, groceries, etc.) which in turn means a loss of tax revenue to the city and the ordinance simply pushes business to neighboring communities. These small business owners are still trying to make up for lost business revenue and now another negative ordinance is being proposed? It seems irresponsible.

We are not proponents of smoking; however, we believe in free enterprise and the right to purchase legal products if you are of legal age. Currently, that age is 18, the same age as many of the young people who choose to protect our freedoms. Eliminating the sale to those 18-21 doesn’t seem to stop them, it simply sends them to Proctor or Superior to purchase such products, along with other goods that may have been purchased in Duluth. You cannot legislate responsibility.

We suggest looking at the effect of the menthol ban ordinance, along with a number of other anti-business ordinances recently passed by the council, to gauge the overall effect of these policies before passing another ordinance that will certainly be a negative for the city tax coffers and business in the City of Duluth. This ordinance will no doubt be hurtful to all convenience stores in Duluth.

It would be a wonderful thing if we could also gauge how these types of ordinances effect businesses looking at the City of Duluth as a place to do business, but decided against it because of such policies. This cost is very high in our opinion. It does not create the perception of Duluth as a place friendly toward business. It does not seem that this perception is shared by our elected officials.

The competition to bring new business is fierce and it is highly recommended that the City Council and the Mayor take this issue under consideration.

Duluth BizPac is a political action committee committed to positively changing the perception of Duluth as a positive place to work and do business and supports political candidates who share this view. Find out more at www.duluthbizpac.net.

Questions or interview requests can be directed to:

Rob Stenberg, BizPac Chair

218-391-4156 or rjs@mblstoryseekers.com