Mpls. council gets an earful over plan to curb menthol tobacco

The Minneapolis City Council heard debate Monday on a proposal that would restrict where menthol tobacco products could be sold in the city.

Only designated tobacco stores would be allowed to sell menthol tobacco, taking the products out of local convenience stores and gas stations.

Several dozen people packed the council chamber and an overflow room to share their opinions. Opponents say the plan could take an economic toll on convenience store owners whose business relies on tobacco sales.

Earlier in the day, members of the Coalition of Neighborhood Retailers gathered at City Hall to urge council members to postpone action on the proposal until an economic impact study is completed.

Hassan Warsame owns a BP gas station and convenience store on the corner Franklin Avenue and 3rd Street.

"If these were the rules throughout the state it'd be OK, but it's only the city of Minneapolis," Warsame said. "And that's very unfair for our business and our community too."

Raymond Boyle, who represents Minneapolis' 1st Ward on the Public Health Advisory Council, supports the amendment.

"The research is quite clear: [Menthol tobacco] makes it easier to start, it appeals to young people and is disproportionately marketed to people of color," Boyle said.

Not enough council members were present to vote after two hours of public comments. The council is expected to revisit the issue Aug. 2.