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Local sales restrictions significantly reduce the availability of menthol tobacco: findings from four Minnesota cities
  1. Joanne D'Silva1,
  2. Joanne Moze2,
  3. John H. Kingsbury3,
  4. Rebecca K Lien4,
  5. Christine M Matter2,
  6. Betsy Brock5,
  7. Antwi Akom6,7
  1. 1Research, ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Center for Prevention, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Eagan, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3Tobacco Prevention and Control, Minnesota Department of Health, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
  4. 4Statistics and Research, Professional Data Analysts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  5. 5Research, Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
  6. 6Social Innovation Lab, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  7. 7Africana Studies, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanne D'Silva, Research, ClearWay Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55425, USA; jdsilva{at}


Background In 2017 and 2018, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Falcon Heights, Minnesota were among the first US cities to restrict the sale of menthol tobacco to adult-only stores. The study examined changes in the availability and marketing of these products following policy implementation.

Methods Retail store audits were conducted approximately 2 months pre-policy and post-policy implementation. Tobacco retail stores (n=299) were sampled from tobacco licensing lists in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Falcon Heights, as well as six comparison cities without menthol policies. The presence of menthol tobacco was assessed, along with the number of interior and exterior tobacco ads and promotions at each store.

Results The majority of policy intervention stores (grocery, convenience stores and pharmacies) were compliant (Minneapolis, 84.4%; Duluth, 97.5%; and St. Paul and Falcon Heights, 100.0%) and did not sell menthol tobacco. In contrast, menthol tobacco was available in all comparison city stores, and most (96.0%) exempted tobacco shops and liquor stores post-policy implementation. Two Minneapolis convenience stores added interior tobacco shops, allowing them to continue selling menthol tobacco. Significant decreases in menthol tobacco marketing post-policy were observed in the stores’ interior in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth (p<0.001) and on the stores’ exterior in Duluth (p=0.023).

Conclusions Findings demonstrate high rates of compliance, indicating that sales restrictions can significantly reduce the availability of menthol tobacco. However, challenges to policy adherence underscore the need for continued monitoring and enforcement action.

  • public policy
  • priority/special populations
  • surveillance and monitoring

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors JD, JM, CM and JK conceived the original idea for this study. RL conducted data analysis. JD, JM, JK and RL interpreted the data. JD wrote the initial draft and received input from coauthors on the initial version as well as revisions of the manuscript. All authors read, reviewed and approved the final version.

  • Funding This study was funded by ClearWay Minnesota and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Support was also provided in part by Truth Initiative.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request from the corresponding author.

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