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Point-of-sale ordinance limits youth tobacco access in Renville County

The tobacco industry uses marketing tactics like price discounting, colorful packaging and other practices that attract youth where they shop every day.

boy in front of tobacco marketingThis is referred to as point-of-sale (POS) marketing. Research shows that tobacco industry marketing, advertising and promotions can encourage young people to try or to continue using tobacco.

Photo credit: Jason McCoy, countertobacco.org

Putting All Communities Together (PACT) for Families, a five-county collaborative that works to develop safe and healthy communities, conducted a 2015 survey of students in grades 7, 9 and 11 in Renville, Kandiyohi, Meeker, McLeod and Yellow Medicine counties. The results: 5.9 percent of the students had used tobacco products in the last 30 days. In Renville County the percentage was 8.3.

"That data confirmed that we need to reduce the number of kids who start smoking," said Jill Bruns, Director of Renville County Public Health Services. "Studies show that if you don’t start using tobacco by the age of 18 you're not likely to start."

A new point-of-sale ordinance limiting tobacco access and exposure to tobacco marketing to youth at local stores passed in Renville County and went into effect in August 2015. Kandiyohi-Renville County SHIP provided technical assistance for the county’s efforts to support and establish its new ordinance.

Studies show that if you don’t start using tobacco by the age of 18 you're not likely to start. - Jill Bruns, Renville County Public Health Services Director

Renville County's point-of-sale ordinance limits tobacco sales within 1,000 feet of youth related facilities; requires a minimum of $2.10 for cigars in packages of fewer than seven (previously, cigars were often sold in single packages for 89 cents); eliminates indoor tobacco vaping or sampling; increases administrative penalties for failed compliance checks; adds annual education requirements for employees at stores that sell tobacco; and prohibits tobacco sales at pharmacies.

A committee of key officials, stakeholders and public members who could provide a broader perspective was formed. It decided which issues were most important in limiting youth tobacco access - raising the minimum age of sales clerks, compliance checks and the cost of cheap cigars - and negotiated those issues with the county board.

Hard work overcomes hurdles in passing ordinance

"We wanted something that would have a long-term impact," Bruns said. "We chose the point-of-sale ordinance. That was one of the hardest to establish because our county board didn’t want to hurt local businesses."

The board rejected a change in the age of clerks allowed to sell tobacco. The committee wanted to raise the age to 18 (clerks in Minnesota must be 16), but the board thought that would hurt businesses too much because the employee pool would be too limited. They settled on 16.

"We felt the other point-of-sales issues (cigar cost and compliance checks) were too important and we worked hard to convince the board," Bruns said.

"We were passionate about limiting tobacco access for our local youth," said Annie Tepfer, coordinator of the Renville Alliance for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drugs who was on the committee. "We had to negotiate some difficult issues, but it passed."

Updated Wednesday, January 04, 2017 at 02:42PM