MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’re a smoker who enjoys sampling cigars in tobacco shops, you could soon lose that pleasure. The city of Minneapolis is considering an amendment to ban indoor cigar sampling.
For 25 years, Tom Harlan has been carrying cigars from around the world at Golden Leaf Tobacco in Uptown Minneapolis. What sets his store apart from the Internet and catalog cigar sales is that his customers have a chance to sample his products.
He said taking that luxury away would take the spice out of his shop.
“If we just became a store that just sold merchandise like a Target, obviously there would be no incentive for consumers to come in and purchase from us. Our business would be in jeopardy,” said Harlan.
That is why Harlan is fighting to keep things the way they are. And he has received a lot of support. He started a petition on Nov. 5 and so far his store has received more than 700 signatures.
“I think it’s important that we have that decision ourselves. I don’t think it should be in the hands of local government to decide what’s best for me and my health,” said customer Eric Bakken.
Grant Wilson, consumer services manager for the City of Minneapolis, said the amendment is being considered because sampling has turned into full-fledged smoking. He said some shops are allowing consumers to smoke as long as they want.
“It’s a lot different than sampling, what I would consider sampling, so that issue has to be addressed. And I’m simply recommending to the council that they take steps to ban the establishment of smoking lounges,” said Wilson.
Wilson said smoking violates Minnesota’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
A public hearing will be held on Nov. 29 at the Minneapolis City Hall. The city council will vote whether or not to amend the ordinance in December.