Surgeon General: Just one cigarette can harm you. City of Northfield: Buy it from us.

Last week saw many stories in the media like this one from USA Today, Just one cigarette can harm DNA, Surgeon General says:

Smooth ReaperEven 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?


  1. Bruce Morlan said:

    Griff, while we all pay the price for tobacco, the City of Northfield does not pay. Selling cigarettes is only profit for them since paying is done by insurance companies who cover the medical costs. This is a variant of the tragedy of the commons that is sometimes called the moral hazard, a label most often used when talking about health care systems that insulate poor individual choices (smoking, eating too much, riding trials bikes, etc.) from the financial consequences and costs of those decisions.

    December 13, 2010
  2. Barry Cipra said:

    Bruce, I think there was a similar LoGroNo discussion a year or so ago regarding coke machines at the high school — the school district makes a few immediate, easily measurable bucks while the societal costs are longterm, diffuse, and difficult to quantify.

    December 13, 2010
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Bruce, like the rest of us, the City has higher health care costs for its employees because of societal tobacco use, so in an indirect way, they’re paying the price, right?

    And while ‘moral hazard’ is an element to consider in this debate, I really think tobacco is in a class by itself in that it’s the only legal product that, when used as directed, still causes harm to both the user and those exposed to the smoke. Every time.

    December 14, 2010
  4. kiffi summa said:

    Last night at the City Council, the tobacco licenses came up for their annual approval. Councilor Kris Vohs reported that the Mayor’s Youth Task Force on Drugs and Alcohol asked him (he is their liaison) why the city sells tobacco at the Muni; He said he reported the financial ramifications/advantages of doing so.

    Councilor Vohs then told the Council that the Task Force would be coming to the Council to speak to them about the city being in the business of selling tobacco.

    Hooray for the ‘Kids’!

    December 15, 2010
  5. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I wish I had never started smoking! (at the tender age of 9yrs old, I wanted to look CooL & older). Well I succeeded in that quest; I don’t smoke in the house I live in so am very CooL on 30 below ) mornings, smoking one of the 5 tobacco cigarettes i allow myself per day, adn I DO look older.. wrinkles around my lips and on my lips, sallow skin and yes.. added wrinkles and darker circles around my eyes. And that HaCkinG sound my father used to make -it’s mine now too.

    I’ve tried to quit many times, quit many other things,in fact it’s the only regular vice/indulgence I have left in life, but it just won’t let me go.

    Considered a polite and ethical smoker, I never smoke in the presence of those who don’t. Moving into a wonderful house who’s history I respect, i have cut down due to the outdoor requirement.

    And I’ve cut down from a 4 pack a day habit to 5 cigarettes. How?
    I found the Electric Cigarette also known as Alternative Nicotine Delivery System.
    Feels like smoking, exhales like smoking, but what is exhaled is water vapor. Thus it is called Vaping.

    This is my solution to a 46 yr habit I wish I had never started, and it’s working.

    The idea that the city is engaged in selling an item that contains over 4000 chemicals is abhorrent.
    The kids are right. Kudos to them! Bravo!

    I wish I had been as smart as they are, and I hope our city get’s a clue as the their own drug dealing.

    December 16, 2010

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