Ordinance restricts indoor e-cigarette usage, sets minimum price point for single cigars at $2.60 each

 Bloomington, Minn. – The City of Bloomington continued its strong leadership regarding the health and safety of its residents, particularly youth, on Nov. 17, 2104.

The Bloomington City Council voted unanimously to include electronic cigarettes in its clean indoor air ordinance and set a minimum price for single cigars at $2.60 each. All cigars sold in packages of less than five must be priced at $2.60 each. For example, a two-pack of cigars would cost $5.20, a three-pack would cost $7.80 and up to five.

Increasing the price of tobacco is the single most effective way to prevent youth tobacco initiation. The ordinance, which puts an end to 50-cent cigars being sold in Bloomington, will prevent many youth from starting a lifelong deadly addiction.

In 2004, the city set a high standard for clean indoor air by restricting smoking in workplaces and public indoor spaces and by preventing smoking 25 feet from entrances. The city also prohibited smoking in parks. The ordinance update means the use of electronic cigarettes is not allowed anywhere conventional cigarette use is also not allowed, such as restaurants and bars.

“A decade ago, the Bloomington City Council showed its commitment to public health when it amended our ordinances in favor of smoke-free workspaces and public places,” Bloomington city council member Cynthia Bemis Abrams said. “(Monday’s) vote aligns limits on e-cigarettes to regular cigarettes, so that our local businesses can be consistent with enforcement, and our residents and visitors can be confident that the air they breathe, in their offices or in a restaurant, is clean.”

These ordinance changes help protect youth from two tobacco products popular with youth. Cigarette use among middle and high school students has decreased dramatically in the past decade, but cigar use has not. Also, the recent Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, released last week, shows 28 percent of high school students have tried e-cigarettes, and 13 percent have used or tried them in the past 30 days. Nearly a quarter of those who have tried e-cigarettes have never tried conventional products.

“We are thrilled that the Bloomington City Council took this common-sense step to protect the health of residents and visitors,” said Betsy Brock, Research Director for the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR).

In raising the price of single cigars, Bloomington joins Saint Paul and Brooklyn Center as the only cities in Minnesota to pass such strong ordinances to prevent youth initiation to smoking. Bloomington is also among 15 cities and two counties to treat e-cigarettes the same as conventional cigarettes in indoor public spaces.