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Retail organizations, St. Paul businesses speak out against proposed tobacco ordinance

St. Paul tobacco retailers are speaking out against a proposed ordinance that would raise cigarette prices, clamp down on sales and increase penalties for rule-breakers.

Local businesses feel shut out of the political process and have struggled to be heard since the City Council started operating remotely at the beginning of the pandemic, Minnesota Retailers Association President Bruce Nustad said at a news conference Wednesday outside of Tobasi Tobacco in St. Paul. Business owners are already struggling amid the pandemic’s economic fallout, he said, and they now fear that new restrictions on tobacco sales will send their customers elsewhere.

“Retailers have been asked to change their business model several times for the city of St. Paul, without evidence that those changes have made a difference,” Nustad said. “Add on to that the pandemic, convenience retailers have been on the front lines.”

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