Linn may require tobacco license for "esmokes," nicotine products

Rule supporters see products as 'bridges between cigarettes'

Sellers of products containing nicotine would be required to get a tobacco-sales license under a proposed new county rule.

Supervisors gave initial approval this morning to the ordinance banning "the sale of nicotine delivery systems and unregulated products containing nicotine" without a retail tobacco permit. The new rule would also ban the sales of those products to minors.

Jill Roeder, healthy behaviors branch manager for Linn County Public Health, said the proposal was prompted by the local sale of "ecigarettes," products containing dissolvable tobacco, snuff, and nicotine-infused gels and drinks.

Roeder said at least one local retailer sells nicotine dissolvables, and ecigarettes are sold through unlicensed kiosks at malls. Ecigarettes are electrical devices that simulate smoking with an inhaled mist that often contains nicotine.

The products aren't legitimate aids to smoking cessation but "bridges between cigarettes," said Tim Boyle, board chairman of the Linn County American Cancer Society. He's also a steering committee member of Linn County Public Health's federally-funded effort to reduce smoking and other unhealthy activities.

"The usage of these products is not to get off smoking two or three packs a day," Boyle told supervisors. "I think it's a way to keep them hooked."

The supervisors, who last summer rejected a proposed ban on dissolvable tobacco, unanimously approved the new rule's first reading. They'll take up the proposal again Wednesday and Monday before it's formally adopted.

The county's annual tobacco sales license costs $50. 

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