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DULUTH - Electronic cigarettes are the new trend in the tobacco world, and now Duluth city councilors are wondering if they should be regulated like real cigarettes.
The city council rolled out three potential ordinances Monday that would enforce the Clean Indoor Air Act and ban electronic cigarettes from being used indoors.
The first ordinance would close what Councilor Linda Krug calls a, “sampling loophole.”
Minnesota state law states that it is legal to sample flavored tobacco products.
This violates the Clean Indoor Air Act that bans people from smoking inside buildings.
Businesses are also using this law to open hookah and vapor bars.
Krug says the way they are interpreting the law is incorrect, and not how it was intended.
There are currently no hookah or vapor bars in Duluth.
The second ordinance could be seen as the most controversial.
It would view e-cigs the same as traditional cigarettes and ban them from being smoked inside.
It first defines an e-cig as a tobacco product.
Councilors Jay Fosle and Gary Krause have controversial opinions on the topic of banning the e-cig.
“I’m not hearing a public outcry to do anything about this right now. I’m truthfully not,” Krause says.
The third ordinance mentioned would regulate the sales of e-cigarettes.
It would ensure that businesses would have to sell the product behind the counter.
With e-cigs being defined as a tobacco product, one would also have to be 18 to buy it.
The topic of e-cigs has not been looked at or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to City Councilor Jen Julsrud, the creation of e-cigs has caused confusion for smokers, leading them to believe they are harmless when the FDA has not yet tackled the product.
According to Julsrude, doctors at the Mayo Clinic have found there is a chemical in the white vapor e-cigs produce that can also be found in anti-freeze.
She also believes e-cigs are marketed to the public under 18 because of the colors and flavors used in the vapors.
The city council will have a public hearing and vote on the three ordinances individually Sept. 9