ST. PETER — After months of deliberation, the St. Peter City Council voted Monday to prohibit the use of electronic cigarette devices withing 10 feet of city buildings.
The council also voted to regulate e-cigarettes with the same city rules as traditional cigarettes.
For the regulation resolution, the council voted to insert the phrase “any nicotine or lobelia delivery device” into the city’s existing tobacco license ordinance.
Lobelia is the name for the leaves and tops of Indian tobacco.
The modification will require St. Peter stores to obtain a cigarette license to sell e-cigarettes and will require that the devices be sold behind the counter. The city will send out a letter to local businesses detailing the new regulation.
For the ban, the council simply expanded its current ban on cigarette usage to officially include e-cigarettes.
The ban does not apply to the city’s outdoor facilities, with the exception of the city swimming pool.
Since the approved regulations are based on the licensing ordinance, e-cigarettes will not be banned from indoor use like cigarettes are under the Minnesota Indoor Clean Air Act.
Instead, the decision on whether e-cigarette usage will be allowed indoors at St. Peter businesses will be left to the individual owners.
American Lung Association representative Erin Simmons urged the city to consider taking up an indoor ban, noting many other Minnesota cities had approved similar bans. She also noted the number of poison control calls have significantly increased due to issues with people ingesting e-cigarette fluids.
Council member Roger Parras was the only dissenting voice in both of the city’s five-to-one votes to approve the new regulations. He said he always sides against further government regulation unless there is a definitively proven problem. He said he was not convinced that action was completely necessary, particularly due to the lack of action on the state and national levels.
Several other Minnesota cities have already passed e-cigarette bans, including Mankato and Duluth.