The Minnesota Legislature has introduced bills that will tax the sale of vapor products and ban the sale of flavored products. For border towns like Moorhead, this can only mean trouble as Minnesotans can hop over to Fargo, or anywhere in North Dakota and come back with their cheaper flavored products. If these bills pass, it means the increase of illicit sales and smuggling through towns like Moorhead.
Minnesota is currently ranked fifth in the country when it comes to the smuggling of tobacco products according to Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Smugglers can bring in products with unauthorized chemicals for consumers to use on their path to quitting. The smuggling of counterfeit products will lead to an increase in health complications for consumers, doing more harm than good. This could be avoided if the state does not pass a tax increase.
Another unintended consequence of these bills is the increase in illicit sales, particularly in border communities. Criminals are incentivized to cross state lines, purchase cheaper tobacco products in another state, and then sell them on the black market to Minnesotans. This is not only dangerous, but highly illegal.
The revenue on these taxes are considered unstable by the Tax Foundation. The state needs to be focused on legislation that helps retailers during this pandemic, and not enforcing legislation that harms retailers by sending sales across the border or leading to retail closures. The state legislature needs to throw out these bills to protect Minnesota’s economy.
Brady Olson is a Moorhead business owner.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.