Smoke-Shop Permits a New Battleground?

St. Paul, Minn., may limit the number of stores allowed to sell tobacco

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In a move that stems from new restrictions on the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products, lawmakers in St. Paul, Minn., are considering placing a limit on the number of tobacco shops in the city, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The proposed ordinance would cap the number of tobacco retail licenses at the current number of tobacco shops in St. Paul: 242.

One of the authors of the proposed rule, Council Member Rebecca Noecker, said she and others have been contemplating the idea since passing restrictions on menthol sales last year. That ordinance restricted the sale of menthol, mint and wintergreen tobacco products to adults-only establishments, specifically liquor stores and tobacco shops. She said the council feared that limiting sales would make it more profitable for those stores, resulting in more shops opening up, the newspaper reported.

St. Paul has 10 pending tobacco license applications, according to the Star Tribune. The newspaper cited Laurie Brickley, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections, as saying that of those 10 pending licenses, seven are gas stations, two are liquor stores and one is a sports bar. Under the proposed ordinance, any eligible establishments that have applied for a tobacco license by Aug. 1 will be exempted from the cap.

Here’s a brief timeline of St. Paul’s activity regarding flavored-tobacco products:

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