Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hermantown bans e-cigarettes — for now

Hermantown has temporarily snuffed out the sale and use of electronic cigarettes inside public spaces while it considers a more permanent solution.

Duluth News Tribune
By Peter Passi

Hermantown has temporarily snuffed out the sale and use of electronic cigarettes inside public spaces while it considers a more permanent solution.

The impetus for a six-month moratorium on the vapor-producing devices came from Duluth, said Hermantown City Administrator John Mulder.

Earlier this month, Duluth passed a resolution subjecting the sale and use of e-cigarettes to the same regulations as the combustible tobacco products they are designed to mimic.

“Like Duluth, we had some questions about these products. Not to criticize Duluth, but instead of taking immediate action the way they did, we decided to put a six-month moratorium in place to give us time to study what we ought to do,” said Hermantown Mayor Wayne Boucher.

“We want to take the emotion out of this issue and simply weigh the facts,” he said.

The idea of a moratorium also appealed to Mulder, who said: “Instead of just reacting, we wanted to take a more thoughtful approach.”

“We’re trying to get ahead of any problems and protect people, but the question is: How do we do that without unnecessarily hurting commerce?” Boucher said.

Although of a limited duration, Hermantown’s temporary moratorium is more restrictive than Duluth’s recently adopted ordinance, which still allows shops to sell e-cigarettes but regulates where they may be used.

No public opposition has yet surfaced to the moratorium in Hermantown, according to Mulder and Boucher, who both say they are not aware of any business selling e-cigarettes in the city.

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Gregory Conley, legislative director for Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, testified before the Duluth City Council that e-cigarette users are exposed to only 1 percent of the risk conventional smokers are.

He told councilors: “If enacted, these ordinances, as written, would not only not benefit public health but would have the perverse consequence of actually protecting cigarette markets,” he warned.

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