SHOREVIEW, Minn. (WCCO) — A Twin Cities suburb is the latest Minnesota city to limit the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Shoreview joins Minneapolis and St. Paul in banning sales to specialty tobacco shops. It’s all part of an effort to curb the growing use of flavored tobacco among teenagers and even young kids.
An ad by the anti-smoking group ClearWay highlights the lure of the brightly-packaged, sweet-smelling products. The children pick up the products, saying they smell like candy.
A Centers for Disease Control study says that the percentage of teens that smoke has dropped from 16 percent in 2011 to nine percent in 2015. But of those that do smoke, 75 percent use flavored tobacco products.
And that’s why Shoreview banned flavored products from every store in the city except for one, the Jonathon Robert Fielding & Co. tobacco shop. For 27 years, the shop’s CEO, David Beahrs, has sold flavored and other tobacco products to cigar and pipe smokers.
No one under 18 is allowed in.
“We are an adult-only facility and we do enforce that,” Beahrs said.
While he favors the crackdown, he feels businesses like his are getting a bad name.
“They have time to pick on pipe smokers for crying out loud,” Beahrs said.
But a leading substance abuse expert says the crackdowns are needed.
“It’s not just high schoolers. It’s kids in middle school, late middle school years that are at risk as well,” Carol Falkowski said.
Falkowski says kids who smoke are much more likely to end up eventually using illegal drugs. She says parents really should consider early tobacco as a warning sign of possible future drug abuse.