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?