Full Disclosure: I’ve never smoked tobacco in my life. And, I personally don’t like candy or sweets.
An outside organization, Association of Non Smokers of Minnesota (ANSRMN), has come to Robbinsdale to push additional tobacco restrictions in our City. Unsurprisingly, ANSRMN is a tobacco industry funded, fully staffed prohibition organization. They gave a presentation to Robbinsdale City Council at a work session in mid-June and the City Council has since requested assistance from the Public Health Law Center presumably to write ANSRMN’s requested ordinance changes. This despite the fact that as a country, we have begun discussion to move away from criminalization and toward compassion solutions for tobacco use. The push for further bans in Robbinsdale is not a matter of whether tobacco is bad or not, but what is the appropriate response of our community that reflects our values. With the stroke and click of five individuals can forever change the lives of our neighbors. Creating crimes out of thin air literally creates criminals where none previously existed at all.
What’s being proposed in Robbinsdale?
In short, these are the “restrictions” that ANSRMN wants Robbinsdale’s City Council to pass:
- Set the minimum price of cigars to $2.60 (the cheapest is around $0.90 or so)
- Ban sweet, candy-flavored tobacco from corners shops and convenience stores
- Ban 18-21 years from purchasing tobacco in the future
- Ban the sale of tobacco/drug paraphernalia and only allow in adult-only shops
Violations of these, by minors or adults, according to Robbinsdale’s current Tobacco ordinance would be a misdemeanor – 90 days in jail or $1,000 fine or both – under state criminal code. This would be in addition to administrative fines accessed by the City. That’s what criminalization would entail. Kids paying $1,000 fines. Is that really how we want to deal with this issue?
Tell your councilman & mayor you oppose this approach!
There are meetings with retailers and a public hearing being planned for September 2017. Email the mayor and your ward councilman now.
Email both the mayor and your respective ward councilman at the same time and be explicit in letting them know you are against further tobacco restrictions/bans in Robbinsdale. Feel free to explain your reasons.
Mayor – Regan Murphy email@example.com 736-257-0368
Ward 1 Councilman – Bill Blonigan firstname.lastname@example.org 763-537-7776
Ward 2 Councilman – Dan Rogan email@example.com 763-533-6874
Ward 3 Councilman – George Selman firstname.lastname@example.org 763-533-2661
Ward 4 Councilman – Pat Backen email@example.com 763-439-6454
Criminalization is not the answer, let’s find a more compassionate solution.
Check back often, as I’ll be posting more information soon on this topic as I find out about them. Comment below with additional thoughts on why criminalizing is not the best approach for our city.