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Cities Struggle to Classify E-Cigs as They Grow in Popularity

Posted at: 07/26/2013 3:48 PM
Updated at: 07/26/2013 8:11 PM
By: Joy Lim Nakrin

A growing trend is taking hold in the Twin Cities: electronic cigarettes.

Minnesota's recent tobacco tax hike seems to have given the business a boost. "Smokeless Smoking" opened its first store in 2009. Now, four years later there are four locations.

Since the new tobacco taxes took effect this month, sales spiked 50 percent, says co-owner Tim Koester. He explains, "Certainly our typical customers are former smokers or people who want to transition off traditional cigarettes."

E-cigarettes contain vapor with nicotine, not tobacco. Since stores that sell them aren't tobacco shops, some cities are struggling with how to classify them under city codes.

Though they sell nicotine, the stores are not tobacco shops. Though they feature lounges, they are not food and beverage establishments.

Bloomington City Councilwoman Karen Nordstrom says, "It seems very strange to have this under recreation, but its not going fit anywhere else."

Smokeless Smoking plans to expand its Bloomington location, which opened in January.

Watch the American Cancer Society weigh in on the smokeless option by clicking here.