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As a longtime convenience store operator in Minneapolis, I find myself deeply concerned about the proposed ordinance put forth by the City Council. I've been serving the community for two decades through my gas station, Quikie Snack and Gas. Recently, the specter of yet another challenge looms over my business and others like it: a proposed hike in tobacco prices and restrictions on discounts.

While I fully appreciate the city's commitment to public health and reducing tobacco use, I worry that these proposed changes ( may have severe unintended consequences, negatively impacting both retailers and consumers alike. The proposed increase to $15 on a pack of cigarettes, as well as on moist snuff and cans of snus, coupled with the ban on coupons and discounts, is a concerning development for businesses like mine.

Restricting coupons and discounts not only limits consumer choice but also places an undue financial burden on adult individuals who choose to use tobacco products. It's crucial to respect the autonomy of adults to make informed decisions about their own choices, akin to how other products, including THC, are treated.

Enforcing these restrictions in Minneapolis may inadvertently drive tobacco users to neighboring jurisdictions where such limitations don't apply. For example, my customers would only need to travel three miles down the road to St. Louis Park, where there are no such restrictions. The same products are available at a significantly lower price. This not only defeats the intended purpose of the ordinance but also results in a significant loss of revenue for businesses within our city.

As someone who has only just begun to recover from the devastation of my business burning down during the 2020 riots, I understand the fragility of small businesses. The proposed ordinance threatens to disproportionately affect smaller retailers like mine, who will struggle to compete with neighboring areas that do not have similar restrictions. The ordinance, coupled with the state's proposal to ban flavored tobacco, could lead to job losses and decreased revenue for local businesses, further exacerbating the challenges we already face.

I urge the Minneapolis City Council to carefully consider the potential ramifications of these proposed changes. Rather than implementing measures that could harm both retailers and consumers, I believe collaborative efforts between the city and retailers, along with educational initiatives, would be more effective in achieving the desired public health outcomes without adversely affecting businesses and consumer choice.

While I appreciate the dedication of council members to the well-being of our community, I strongly oppose this proposed ordinance due to its detrimental effects on retailers and consumers in Minneapolis. Let's work together to find solutions that prioritize both public health and economic prosperity for all members of our community.

Anis Ayani has been in the convenience business for more than 20 years. He owns Quikie Snack and Gas in Minneapolis. A hearing on the proposed tobacco ordinance before the Minneapolis City Council's Business, Housing and Zoning Committee is planned for Tuesday.