Our View: Extending smoke-free ordinance makes sense

Months of discussion and limited feedback likely are adding to the addition of e-cigarettes in Olmsted County's Smoke Free Workplace ordinance. An initial request for input from the county's public health department yielded 39 responses from 300 emails to business owners, with about 64 percent backing the ordinance change. A later letter sent to 695 businesses produced only four responses.

The lack of input on the proposal to ban the products wherever traditional smoking is not allowed seems to offer silent support. If the change was not wanted, we would expect to hear objections.

We've noted before that there is an astonishing lack of scientific data about the risks of e-cigarettes to the users themselves, let alone those who are exposed to secondhand vapors. E-cigarettes continue to gain popularity, but their production still lacks oversight or regulation, which is worrisome from a public health standpoint.

We support adding e-cigarettes to the items covered in the Smoke Free Workplace ordinance. If unexpected opposition is seen ahead of the Nov. 18 public hearing, we would urge county officials to stand firm and guard against potential health risks. If e-cigarettes aren't found to be the dangers some fear, the measure can be revisited at a later date.

Bike path a good fit for Byron


Within hours of Byron's Economic Development Authority's release of a "wish list" stemming from a community outreach meeting, one wish received a small nod. On the list was the addition of bike paths, specifically connecting the city to Oxbow Park and Rochester.

While a request made at Tuesday's Byron City Council meeting falls short of the grander wish, it does advance one group's desire to have a trail to provide improved access to the city's high school. Members of Biker Bears requested city help with a preliminary engineering study for a one-mile trail along 20th Street between Highway 5 and 10th Avenue Northeast to help provide a safer route along the gravel road.

While the final project could cost $200,000 to $300,000, said Dwight Crossfield, who lead the presentation Tuesday, the group wasn't asking for anything the city wasn't already considering.

"As staff, we realize this is a project we want to do in the future," said City Administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft, noting helping the local group handle planning and potential fundraising would provide a public-private partnership with a variety of benefits, which could include getting the path built sooner than expected.

With goal of creating a new path within two years, as well as a safe and healthy option to access the school, the city's support of the bike group's effort was the obvious choice. With any luck, more of the 21 items on the EDA's wish list will see similar support from groups within the city.

Mayo Clinic, Apple link could pay off in good health

Mayo Clinic's participation in Apple's much-anticipated wristband device has many wondering whether the collaboration could do for health care what the computer company has already done for cellphones and digital music. Apple has a history of taking technology to the next level and making it mainstream.

Mayo Clinic is reportedly in the process of creating its own app for the device to allow sharing of lab results and other data, aimed at improving the health of users.


"By interacting with patients and their data at an earlier stage in their state of wellness or their state of illness, you can effect change so those patients potentially wouldn't have to present to the emergency department," Mayo Clinic Dr. John Wald told a Minneapolis television station earlier this week.

While making sure the shared data remains private must be the top priority for Apple and the Mayo Clinic in their latest endeavors, we hope the new high-tech focus on health will help make wellness mainstream and as part as everyday life as the iPad or iPhone.

If so, what they say about an apple a day could become true.

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