Sleepy Eye takes action on e-cigarettes

SLEEPY EYE – The Sleepy Eye City Council unanimously approved a first reading Tuesday to amend its 2007 Clean Indoor Air Act ordinance (statewide smoke-free law) to include e (electronic) -cigarettes.

American Lung Association Tobacco Program Manager Ann Christensen of Mankato told the city council e-cigarettes are being sold in mall kiosks located near children’s stores and appearing in ads with Santa Claus. They come in a variety of candy-like flavors including “Gummy Bears” as a way to become popular with young children even though they contain the carcinogen nicotine that is more addictive than heroin and cocaine. They are taxed as tobacco products and not legally sold to minors.

“The nicotine and other substances in them are not regulated, and they currently don’t meet the definition of “smoking” under Minnesota’s Clean Indoor Air Act. So using them in public places like bars and restaurants is not against the law yet in most places,” Christensen said.

She said that the City of Duluth has banned the use of e-cigarettes anywhere smoking is prohibited including bars, restaurants and transit stops. In addition, Duluth and Mankato prohibited the sampling of tobacco products including e-cigarettes in retail stores and requires them to be sold behind the counter.

She urged cities and counties to update indoor air laws to include a ban on e-cigarettes, to require stores and “vapor lounges” to be licensed as tobacco retailers, and to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes on city and county property. She also advocated prohibiting e-cigarette sampling in stores and requiring disclosure of e-cigarette ingredients.

“Bottles of e-cigarette juice read that the contents is harmful or fatal if swallowed. … I’m absolutely mortified these products are out there,” Christensen said.

The council approved;

A $3,200 subsidy to the Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society.

A new snow removal policy. Parking is prohibited in the Emergency Snow Route when a Snow Emergency is declared. Vehicle owners must move vehicles from these areas within two hours after the emergency is declared or be subject to ticketing and towing, at police discretion. The route includes 2nd Avenue NW and SW from the railroad tracks to Walnut Street; 1st Avenue from Oak to Walnut St; 2nd Avenue NE/SE from Oak to Walnut; all of Highways 4 and 14 within the city limits.

In residential areas, street parking is discouraged during snow emergencies. Vehicles must be moved within 24 hours after a Snow Emergency is declared to a plowed spot on the street that leaves room for plows to clear formerly un-plowed parking areas, or be subject to ticketing or towing, at police discretion.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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