Teen smoking is declining, according to a recent Monitoring the Future press release:
The 2011 national survey results from the Monitoring the Future study show decreases in teen smoking in all three grades under study—grades 8, 10, and 12. The proportion saying that they smoked at all in the prior 30 days fell significantly for the three grades combined, from 12.8% in 2010 to 11.7% this year.
Officials from the City of Northfield this week, while acknowledging that this is good news for obvious reasons, expressed some concern because the Northfield Municipal Liquor Store profits from its sale of cigarettes and cigars.
"These teens are our potential future customers," said Juan Morefore DeRhode, Muni Manager. "If this trend holds up, we’re going to have to revisit the revenue projections in our long-range plan and adjust accordingly."
When asked what marketing strategies he’d consider that might help to ensure future tobacco revenues, DeRhode said he continues to have discussions with the gift shop at the Northfield Hospital, owned by the City of Northfield but operated by the Northfield Hospital Auxiliary. "We’ve always said that one of the reasons we carry tobacco products at the Muni is for the convenience of the customer. That rationale holds up for the hospital’s gift shop, too, with so many of its patients addicted to tobacco. We’d be delighted to work with them and split the profits."
The issue was on the agenda of Northfield’s Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol & Drug Use last week.
"Tobacco will prematurely kill the kids who smoke but only when they get much older," said Task Force member Dr. Kirsten Mashton. "So we’re not really concerned about that. Our worries are tied to the revenue projections. We received $15,750 in 2011 from the Muni. If the decline in teen smoking continues, that jeopardizes our future funding and our ability to make an impact."
The City’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) is also concerned. "We worked hard to bring two tobacco businesses to Northfield in the past year," said EDA President Janis Tappan. "It would be a shame if Tobacco Field or Division Tobacco took a hit from this decline in teen smoking and had to close."
The City of Northfield has had the exclusive franchise on selling tobacco downtown for quite a while. Yes, you can buy cigars and cigarettes at the Muni.
Six months ago, Tobacco Field opened near downtown on So. Hwy 3. And now, Division Tobacco is coming to Division St. Nfld Patch: Legal restrictions force councilors to allow downtown tobacco shop
In a near legally mandated vote, councilors approved 5-2 to allow a business owner with a history of criminal disputes and stores that sold drug paraphernalia to open a new shop in Northfield.
Councilors Rhonda Pownell and Kris Vohs voted against the measure despite city attorney Chris Hood’s claim that Northfield "[does not] have sufficient basis to deny" a license and risked legal action if it denied the license.
With tough budgeting on the horizon for the City, I’m wondering what Muni manager Stephen DeLong has in mind to ratchet up tobacco revenue.
Let’s help him out by brainstorming some suggestions.
Last week saw many stories in the media like this one from USA Today, Just one cigarette can harm DNA, Surgeon General says:
Even brief exposure to tobacco smoke causes immediate harm to the body, damaging cells and inflaming tissue in ways that can lead to serious illness and death, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s new report on tobacco, the first such report in four years.
While the report, out today, focuses on the medical effects of smoke on the body, it also sheds light on why cigarettes are so addictive: They are designed to deliver nicotine more quickly and more efficiently than cigarettes did decades ago.
Unlike (many? most? all?) municipal liquor stores in the Twin Cities area, the Northfield Municipal Liquor Store continues to sell cigarettes, hundreds of dollars worth every month, for an annual profit of aboutf $5,000/year.
I last whined about this policy in August of 2007 (Should the City of Northfield be selling gateway drugs to its citizens? Alcohol, yes. Tobacco, no) and before that in January of ’07 with a faux news post, Northfield Hospital board opts for cigarette revenue.
I really don’t understand why the Northfield Hospital Board, the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use (MTF), the Northfield School Board, and other local organizations concerned with health and youth chemical issues don’t pressure the Northfield City Council to get out of the tobacco business. Don’t they take ClearWay Minnesota‘s campaign We all pay the price for tobacco seriously?
The topic of this month’s Northfield League of Women Voters 4th Monday Forum on Aug. 27 at the library: is:
“The Muni: should the city of Northfield be in the business of selling alcohol and tobacco?”
There’s no info about the forum on the League’s website but according to Kiffi Summa, “There will be no experts, no panel, just citizens discussing this issue, which seems to have strong proponents on both sides.”
I’ve long said (ad nauseum, to some) that the City should quit selling cigarettes since they’re the only legal product that, when used as directed, still kill you. That’s not true for alcohol. But after chatting about this on our radio show/podcast this week with former City Councilor Dixon Bond, I think this is NOT the time for the Council to tackling liquor store relocation issues and along with that, the larger issue of whether to have a Muni at all. It just has too many more pressing issues on its plate, with leadership issues (mayor, city administrator, police chief) on top of that.
However, getting out the tobacco retail business should be a no-brainer, 5-minute discussion/decision. The City makes less than $5,000/yr in profit from selling cigarettes. More importantly, selling tobacco makes the City look hypocritical, as it appears to be placing profits ahead of health. “We only sell cigarettes at the Muni for the convenience of the customers.” That may have been a valid reason in years past, but not any more. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes aren’t inextricably linked any more. I’d venture that the percentage of smokers among those adults visiting the library, the hospital gift shop, and city hall is pretty close to those visiting the liquor store. Why not sell tobacco at those city retail locations if convenience of the customers is a concern?
Not only is the City of Northfield making money off selling a drug to its citizens that’s “proven to be highly addictive, as well as a cause of multiple types of cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, circulatory disease and birth defects.”
One of its employees at the Muni has now been cited for selling that addictive drug to a minor, according to this article in this week’s Northfield News.
The names and ages of those cited are listed in the police report published by the Northfield News.
Cashiers failed to follow state law in one third of the 21 businesses Northfield and Dundas police checked last week to ensure they selling weren’t tobacco to minors. Five Northfield and two Dundas cashiers were cited May 21 for selling tobacco products to someone under 18. Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith said officers from both departments cooperated in the effort, which checked 16 business in Northfield, five in Dundas.
In what Smith termed compliance checks, volunteer teens were supervised by plain-clothes police officers. Teens were instructed to go into the business and ask to purchase tobacco. If asked their age or for identification, Smith said, the teens provided accurate information. In Northfield, the chief said, most cashiers cited either failed to ask for identification or didn’t look at it when it was provided. In one instance, the cashier looked at the ID, but typed inaccurate information into the cashier, overriding the system. Smith declined to name that cashier.
Penalties for selling tobacco to a minor are 90 days in jail, $1,000 or both. A second violation in five years is considered a gross misdemeanor and can bring penalties of one year in jail, $3,000 or both. But the cashiers aren’t the only ones facing consequences. Smith said those holding the licenses at offending establishments could face civil penalties or revocation of their license.
The hypocrisy of the City of Northfield profiting from the sale (albeit a paltry $5,000 per year) of an addictive, disease-causing drug to its citizens bothers me.
I wish those in a leadership position in Northfield who care about the health of its citizens, especially our youth, would pressure the City Council to stop.
- Members of the Mayor’s Youth Task Force (Pat Allen, Katherine Cooper, Ken Engstrom, Patty Gallivan, Luke Hasskamp, Sharon Henry, Joan Janusz, Mary Nelson, Susan Sanderson, Zach Pruitt, Kathy Sandberg.)
- Board members from the Healthy Community Initiative (Anne Meyer Ruppel, Barb Farmer, Beth Berry, Cathy Berger , Clarita Kell, Eric Lundin, Gary Smith, Hannah Puczko, Jim Blaha, Joe McGowan, Joy Riggs, Julie Bubser, Kathy Sandberg, Linda Oto, Lynn Vincent, Marnie Thompson, Mary Nelson, Scott Richardson, Shari Schreck, Tim Halverson, Zach Pruitt.)
- Youth members on the Mayor’s Youth Council (Ruth Amerman, Claire Carlson, Sam Dunnewold, Daniella Espinoza, Chris Frost, Josh Goettl, Ryan Hattie, Adrian Lazaro, Lindsay Marosi, Tom Pokorney, Sam Ruby, Brianna Spittle, Siri Thompsons, Yojin Yoon.)
- Members of the City of Northfield’s Hospital Board (Curt Swenson, Mike Allen, Dixon Bond, Terry Gilbertson, Peggy Hoffman, John Lundblad, Brett Reese, James Schlichting, Gina Washburn.)
- Youth board members of the Union of Youth (Scotty Barvir, Jena Fredrick, Ruth Amerman, Addy Payne, Zane Anway, Mike Kleve, Joey McGowan, Schuyler Huber, Kellen Kirchberg, Marie Fischer, Gerrit Duys, Andi Sison, Gus DeMann, Abe Henson, Andrea Lovoll.)
- Adult board members of the Union of Youth (Michael Blaha, David Bly, Jim Evans, Sarah Kaul, Mark Madson, Peter Prenzel-Guthrie, Zach Pruitt, Kiffi Summa, Ted Tuel, Alex Beeby.)
- Members of the Northfield School Board (Kari Nelson, Noel Stratmoen, Kathryn M. Hargis, Wendy Smith, Diane Cirksena, Paul Hager, Mike Berthelsen.)