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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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