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21st November 2013

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on Tuesday regarding a proposed change to the county's tobacco ordinance that would regulate the use of so-called electronic cigarettes.

The most controversial part of the ammendment would place a ban on sampling tobacco products, including the liquids used in e-cigs, even in stores devoted primarily to those products.

Eighteen people spoke at the hearing, including Matt Bewley, the owner of Northern Vapes in downtown Bemidji. Bewley told the commissioners that such a ban on sampling would essetially, "cripple my business."

Proponents of the ordinance including a representative from the American Lung Association also spoke at the meeting.

The board passed the ordinance on a 3-2 vote with commissioners Lucachick and Sumner voting against. It was the second reading; the third and final reading is scheduled for the next meeting after which it would become law.

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