St. Paul Increases Price of Cheap Cigars

By CHRIS FARMER-LIES

In October 2014, St. Paul became the largest city in Minnesota to establish a minimum pack size for little cigars. Each single cigar in a pack of four or less must be sold for at least $2.10 each. For example, a pack of three must retail for $6.30. This policy does not apply to packs of five or more.

According to the 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, nearly 20 percent of high school students have used any form of tobacco in the past 30 days, which may include cigars. These products are typically flavored, colorful, and inexpensive,

According to data gathered by Project WATCH the average price of single cigars more than doubled in St. Paul after the ordinance, increasing from $0.97 to $2.18. In September of 2014, single cigars were sold by 59 percent of the retailers surveyed. By December 2014, only 39 percent of retailers carried the same products.

This innovative policy was inspired by similar ordinances adopted by Boston, Mass., and surrounding communities. Despite opposition by the tobacco and convenience store industries, Brooklyn Center was the first municipality in Minnesota to adopt a similar ordinance in May 2014. Bloomington adopted a similar ordinance in November 2014. Bloomington sets the price per cigar at $2.60.

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