The small city of Belle Plaine, Minn., home to just under 7,000 people, has lifted a moratorium on new tobacco shops but has banned the sampling of tobacco products in those shops–an interesting move since there are currently no tobacco shops in the city.

The moratorium dates back to March 17, when an ordinance that temporarily prohibited the opening of new tobacco stores was adopted by the city council. The ordinance stated that the moratorium would be in effect “until further review of any new licensing or related provisions pertaining to such uses, or until one year, whichever comes first.”

The move was geared primarily towards e-cigarette retailers, but the ramifications due prove interesting for other tobacco retailers, including premium cigar retailers. Currently, the sampling of tobacco-related products–including e-cigarettes–in tobacco shops, is exempt from Minnesota’s Clean Air Act, unless a city passes its own ordinance to ban it. 

The Belle Plaine Public Safety Committee said that banning sampling activity should sufficiently address those concerns, according to a report from the Belle Plaine Herald.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.