Duluth City Council to consider e-cigarette rulesThree ordinances dealing with electronic cigarettes were introduced to the Duluth City Council on Monday night. The aim is to regulate the devices as the city regulates cigarettes, including restricting their use where smokers are banned.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
Three ordinances dealing with electronic cigarettes were introduced to the Duluth City Council on Monday night.
The aim is to regulate the devices as the city regulates cigarettes, including restricting their use where smokers are banned.
The council will take up the issue again at its agenda session meeting Sept. 5.
Members met as a committee of the whole before the regular council meeting Monday to talk about the ordinances.
Jennifer Julsrud said that as long as there were questions about the safety of e-cigarettes, the city is right to “get on the front line of public health.”
Minnesota Clean Indoor Act language addresses the devices and says they do not meet the definition of smoking because the user is using heat to create a vapor. There is no combustion. Users inhale on the cigarette-looking device and trigger a super-heater that turns liquid in a cartridge to vapor. It can be nicotine or a flavor.
But doctors have said chemicals released in that vapor could be harmful, Julsrud said. She also said that because of the many flavors e-cigarette makers offer, including bubble gum, they are marketing to children.
Julsrud and Linda Krug introduced the measures under advice from Jill Doberstein, a Duluth representative of the American Lung Association, a longtime advocate of smoking cessation and anti-smoking campaigns.
Doberstein said e-cigarettes still are a nicotine deliverer and her group is being proactive as the health effects still are debated.
Council member Patrick Boyle asked Doberstein why the council was receiving so many e-mails about the ordinances, many saying e-cigarettes have taken them off of tobacco cigarettes.
Emily Larson said people are misreading the intent. The city doesn’t plan to ban the devices; it is regulating them like tobacco.
Brian Annis of Duluth spoke to the board and urged it to reconsider lumping e-cigarettes with tobacco as a public nuisance. He said the more people see them in use, the more use will grow and take people off tobacco.
He said he’s done a lot of study on the health risks since he decided to quit a year ago. He said his father, a 64-year-old lifetime smoker of two packs a day, showed interest so he bought him one. He hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette since, Annis said.
David Dallman of Duluth wrote an e-mail to the council with a similar story of cessation.
“They’re being lumped in with secondhand smoke,” he said. “It’s the only thing that’s worked for me.”
That’s also the case for three of his weekly poker buddies. There were four smokers and one nonsmoker in the group, Dallman said. Now three use the e-cigarettes, and the nonsmoker no longer complains, he said.
The devices can be used with nicotine or without. Dallman intends to go nicotine-free soon.
E-cigarettes are alarming public officials across the country. They are mostly unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This year, cities across Minnesota are taking measures against using them indoors. Doberstien said Duluth would be the 18th city to ban the devices as cigarettes are banned.
Doberstein and council members said the ordinances simply could clear up confusion. People in bars and other places see people using e-cigarettes and assume they are the real thing, and sometimes lighting up tobacco products.
Annis said that confusion will go away once more people see the devices.
“Don’t limit access,” he said.