Duluth City Council Approves Three E-Cig Ordinances

By KBJR News 1

September 9, 2013 Updated Sep 9, 2013 at 9:21 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Duluth City Council approved three e-cigarette ordinances Monday night.

Councilors heard from a dozen community members both for and against the ordinance.

The first ordinance prohibits sampling in establishments that sell the substance which councilors say close a loophole.

The second prohibits people from using e-cigarettes in certain locations such as outside hospitals and places where regular cigarettes are prohibited.

The Third regulates the sale of the cigarettes, stating vendors need a license to sell and people need to be 18 years of age to purchase such devices.

The ordinances will go into effect next month.


The debate went well beyond the Duluth City Council chambers Monday.

Denfeld Tobacco in Duluth sells plenty e-cigarettes.

"Yeah, they're very popular. They help a lot of people quit smoking which is the best part about it." said Leif Melby of Denfeld Tobacco.

A recent report in the Lancet Medical Journal states that e–cigs may be as effective as the patch in helping smokers quit.

"Even though the Lancet report indicates e–cigarettes could be good for quitting smoking, the folks at the American Lung Association feel that would be just trading one addiction for another." said reporter Dave Anderson.

"Two of the largest cigarette companies in the world bought two of the e–cigarette companies so if Phillip Morris is interested in this product, my guess is it isn't about cessation." said Pat McKone of the American Lung Association.

That's one reason why the American Lung Association supports a proposed Duluth city ordinance regulating the devices.

"We don't want this device where the public is. So, anywhere smoking is prohibited in the City of Duluth, we think e–cigarettes should be prohibited." said McKone.

The ordinance will prohibit free samples from being offered in stores.

Dozens of emails have been sent to city councilors both supporting and deriding the plan.

Other reasons the Lung Association is pushing for the regulations include e–cigs that seem to be marketed towards children.
And, another concerns that's been raised... some of the devices can be modified to use synthetic marijuana substitutes like K2.

"A YouTube video was pointed out to me this morning about K2 and showing how to load it into the e–cigarette." said McKone.

Leif Melby of Denfeld Tobacco counters by saying e–cigarette sales in Minnesota are already governed by the same laws and taxes as real tobacco.

He thinks the e–cigs are less deadly than the real stuff and this ordinance would be overkill.

"I do think it is overkill. As soon as they're exhaled, you see the water vapor and it disappears right away." said Melby.

The American Lung Association says it has to be proven that e–cigs are less deadly before they'll back off from supporting tighter regulations.

Dave Anderson