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Menthol Tobacco Restrictions Begin In Mpls. Wednesday

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A new city ordinance that restricts the sale of menthol tobacco products will go into effect in Minneapolis Wednesday.

The law states menthol tobacco products are to be sold solely at adult-only tobacco and liquor stores. The ordinance was passed in July 2017.

"Our fight is about saving lives," Sylvia Amos of StairStep Foundation said. "Our goal is to keep menthol cigarettes out of the hands of the youth of our community. I hope everyone who smokes menthol cigarettes will set Aug. 1 as a resolution day to quit smoking."

Amos lost her mother, husband and three aunts to smoking-related cancers. She's now working with black community leaders and the Minneapolis City Council to educate the community and work to prevent youth from starting to smoke. In addition to the black community and youth, Amos aims to spread awareness to the LGBTQ+ community and women, who are also heavily targeted by the tobacco industry.

LaTrisha Vetaw, co-leader of the Menthol Coalition and health policy advocacy manager at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center Inc., says the tobacco industry has manipulated menthol levels making it easier to pick up smoking and harder to quit.

"To them, each new smoker and each current smoker who can't quit mean dollar signs," Vetaw said. "'Profits over people' should be the tobacco industry's official motto."

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