Minneapolis leaders may restrict menthol cigarette sales

MINNEAPOLIS — The sale of menthol cigarettes in Minneapolis may soon be restricted to adult-only tobacco shops.

The city already has an ordinance that limits other flavored tobacco products, such as fruit-flavored chewing tobacco, to adult-only tobacco shops, The Star Tribune reported.

A public hearing for the proposed ordinance to restrict methanol sales is scheduled for July 24. If the ordinance is approved, Minneapolis would be the first city in the state to restrict menthol cigarette sales. San Francisco and Chicago have similar policies.

A 2014 report from the Minnesota Department of Health found that more than 40 percent of high school smokers used menthols. Anti-smoking advocates argue that a mint-flavored compound in the cigarettes that creates a cooling sensation makes it easier for teenagers to start smoking.

Menthol cigarettes were introduced in the 1920s. They were originally marketed as a healthy alternative to other tobacco products, a misconception that continues today, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The Association for Nonsmokers and NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center launched an education campaign after the flavored tobacco ordinance passed in 2015, with the goal of getting a menthol cigarette ordinance passed. The campaign has formed a group of nearly 50 local organizations that support the ordinance.

Other Minnesota cities have enacted legislation to make it more difficult for teenagers to acquire tobacco products.

— Associated Press

Lawsuit challenges Fla. ban on smokable medical marijuana

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The trial lawyer who led the effort to allow marijuana for medical uses in Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state’s decision to ban smokable forms of the plant.

Smoking marijuana is the best way to administer it to some patients with debilitating conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, lawyer John Morgan said at a news conference outside the Leon County courthouse where he filed the suit.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law last month implementing the constitutional amendment, but lawmakers banned smoking marijuana, saying that smoking isn’t healthy.

Republican State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the bill, said he is confident the law will stand as is. He said lawmakers studied the science of medical marijuana and crafted a law that provides all the benefits without the health risks.

The law does allow vaping and marijuana products sold as edibles, oils, sprays or tinctures.

Morgan spent millions of dollars to get the medical marijuana amendment passed. A 2014 effort fell just short of the 60 percent voter support it needed to pass. A second effort in 2016 was easily approved with 71 percent support.

Morgan has taken his fight against the smoking ban to social media, where he is using the hashtag #NoSmokeIsAJoke.

Scott’s office referred a request for comment to the state Department of Health, which wouldn’t comment other than to say the suit is being reviewed.

— Associated Press