Controversies

Convenience stores burning over cigar crackdown

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — These days, where there’s smoke — or smokes — there’s fire. This time the conflagration started when local governments began raising prices on small stogies and cigarillos sold in more Twin Cities convenience stores.

Brooklyn Center this summer implemented Minnesota’s first ordinance aimed at reducing the affordability of flavored mini-cigars.

“We know these products are targeted at young people and popular among young people,” said Emily Anderson of the Association of Nonsmokers-Minnesota. “The goal is to make those products a bit less successful, by getting the price up, so that they are less appealing to young people.”

St. Paul began enforcing a similar ordinance this month, even as Bloomington, Minneapolis and Northfield consider following suit.

Yet small business owners maintain the latest anti-tobacco fad simply sends customers down the street to the next city over for a legal product that makes a big difference in their respective bottom lines.

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