My father, Jim Heltzer, worked for many years as a Beltrami County Commissioner to have Beltrami County be a smoke-free environment for those who live and work here. I am confident that if he were alive today he would be leading the charge against the use of e-cigarettes.
The Beltrami County Board has the opportunity to vote to restrict the use of e-cigarettes. This can include restricting "sampling" in indoor retail licensed tobacco shops. While the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act allows for this "sampling", the intent was never for people to be able to sit for long periods of time in "vaping lounges". Secondhand effects of the chemicals found in e-cigarettes and shared through the "vapors" have not proven to be safe.
Beltrami County was a leader years ago before the State of Minnesota caught up and passed state laws restricting smoking in public places. Beltrami County can again be a leader in addressing this more recent public health threat by restricting e-cigarette use, including the restriction of "sampling".
I hope that Beltrami County will follow the City of Duluth in banning the sampling of e-cigarettes in retail stores and prohibiting their use anywhere that traditional smoking is prohibited.