Yellow Medicine County considers draft of tobacco ordinance

GRANITE FALLS — The Yellow Medicine County Board discussed a preliminary draft of a proposed county ordinance regulating the sale of tobacco products at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Ashlie Wubben, representing Countryside Public Health (CPH), a Community Health Service Agency serving five counties in western Minnesota, briefed the commissioners on the proposed ordinance.

Among the optional measures CPH suggested the board consider were: prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products including menthol, regulating the price of tobacco products such as cigars to a set minimum, prohibiting sale of tobacco products, which have been removed from their original packaging or so-called “loosies,” establishing a minimum clerk age for selling tobacco products, limiting the number of retailers in a given jurisdiction and establishing a minimum distance between tobacco retailers and any “youth-oriented facility” such as schools, playgrounds, recreational areas, and parks.

The proposed ordinance would also ban the sale of imitation tobacco products in the county, defined as, “any edible non-tobacco product designed to resemble a tobacco product, or any non-edible tobacco product designed to resemble a tobacco product and intended to be used by children as a toy. Imitation tobacco products include, but is not limited to, candy or chocolate cigarettes, bubble gum cigars, shredded bubble gum resembling chewing tobacco, and shredded beef jerky in containers resembling tobacco snuff tins.”

Commissioner John Berends expressed concern that establishing a minimum clerk age of 18 to sell tobacco products would make it nearly impossible for retail establishments to find clerks, since many are having difficulty already.

The board will review further drafts of the proposed ordinance as it is refined.

In other business, the board heard a Human Services update by Human Services Director Rae Ann Keeler-Aus.

Yellow Medicine County ranks seventh in the state in four major performance measures: paternity establishment, child support order establishment, collection on current support, and collections on arrears.

The county has established paternity through DNA testing on 100 percent of cases compared to a state average of 97.78 percent, child support orders established in 89.55 percent versus a state average of 85.81 percent, county collections on current child support payments at 79.64 percent versus 72.62 percent statewide, and collection on past due payments at 75.58 percent versus 70.41 percent.


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