White Bear Lake, Minn., city leaders, doing their best to make their community a smoke-free zone, have banned cigarette vending machines.
The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to institute the ban in 90 days. The measure calls for the removal of the 19 cigarette vending machines in bars, gas stations, convenience stores and apartment and office buildings."We believe White Bear Lake is the first city in the country to ban cigarette vending machines," said Jean Forster, a University of Minnesota public health associate professor.
A local committee found from interviews with teenagers who smoke that 93 percent get their cigarettes from machines.
The vote came 18 months after city police started arresting juveniles who smoked in public. So far, 155 teenagers have been arrested and ordered to attend a two-night lecture and discussion session at a counseling center.
Officials said there only have been a handful of repeat offenders and about two dozen youths who skipped the counseling sessions and were fined $25 to $100.