The St. Paul City Council is set to vote on a proposal that would increase the price of cigars, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.
Supporters hope to replicate “the success” of an ordinance in Brooklyn Center, where the price of single cigars and the smaller cigarillos more than doubled.
“Success” is evidently now measured by how high they can make Cigar prices go. The claim is to keep Tobacco out of the hands of children, even though there are already existing laws to prevent underage tobacco sales.
Retailers are fighting back.
“All of a sudden two retail establishments that might be fifty feet apart have different processes for how they can sell something. That’s not a very effective way to regulate commerce.” According to Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Several cigar shops and their patrons within the city are making their voices heard regarding their opinion of the half thought out rule.
The problem for local retailers if the law passes is that any cigar shop literally across the street from the city line of St Paul will not be affected from the price increase, meaning that they will be able to sell the cigars for 1/2 the price of what retailers can legally sell those exact same cigars for within the city limits. Plans like this effectively drive businesses and the jobs they provide away from the city limits (but not one inch further).
The City Council is powerless to raise taxes for businesses out of their jurisdiction. It’s unclear how the city plans to deal with online cigar shops.
This is one of the less thought out plans by a city government. It most likely would have been far more cost effective to just enforce the current laws on the books against underage tobacco usage. Rather the city would prefer to close cigar shops and the jobs they provide.