An old-fashioned Minnesota soda fountain was threatened with a $500 fine if it doesn’t stop selling candy cigarettes.
Lynden’s Soda Fountain, a soda shop that opened in April in St. Paul, Minn., said it would heed the warning of a potential fine for the candy cigarettes given by city inspectors. The St. Paul City Council passed a ban on candy cigarettes and cartoon character lighters in April 2009, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“We will no longer carry candy or bubblegum cigars or cigarettes,” Lynden’s Twitter account, @LyndensSoda, wrote Dec. 20. “We got busted yesterday by the City of St. Paul. Oops.”
The soda fountain is having fun with the fine threat. It’s running a promotion based on the warning.
“Stop in and try a Soda at half price between now and the end of the year while sugar is still legal!” the store wrote on its Facebook page Thursday. “Just tell the jerk ‘you heard we were busted’ to receive your 50% of on a handmade soda! Bring the whole family!”
The Facebook page also included a photo of the candy cigarettes with the caption, “Guilty!”
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Visitors to the Facebook page said they believed candy cigarettes were harmless and should not be banned in the city.
“Ugh. Sorry to hear it,” Facebook user Mike Swanson said of the incident. “Really starting to hate what our society has become.”
“Oh no, I was going to buy some for stocking stuffers! I loved them as a kid,” wrote Rebecca March. “Sorry to Lynden's, you were just making life a little more fun!”
The shop said it was unaware of the law banning candy cigarettes. Its Twitter account had links to news stories about the warning.
“Who knew candy cigarettes could spark such controversy!” the account said Thursday.
A city inspector said the old-fashioned soda fountain would receive a $500 fine and a citation if it didn’t stop selling the candy cigarettes. Only a warning was given.
In an interview Wednesday with the Star-Tribune, Lynden’s owner Tobi Lynden said she didn’t realize it was against the law to sell the candy cigarettes, which she said were the shop’s top-selling candy item.
“We had no idea,” she told the paper. “We don’t want to get on the bad side of St. Paul.”
Some are concerned that candy cigarettes are bad influences on children, but Lynden said mostly adults are the ones purchasing the novelties.
"We weren't trying to promote smoking or tobacco use of any kind,” she told the Star-Tribune.
St. Paul Safety and Inspections Department spokesman Robert Humphrey said the agency receives complaints of shops selling candy cigarettes about once a year.
"We enforce this on a complaint basis," Humphrey told the paper. "This isn't taking time away from any major enforcement [actions]."
Candy cigarettes are outlawed nationwide in Australia, Canada and Thailand, the Star-Tribune noted.