Legislature to consider ban of e-cigarette use indoors

February 16, 2019 10:11 PM

People who use e-cigarettes in Minnesota could find themselves having to take it outside with other smokers in bars and restaurants.

A measure making its way through the state House of Representatives would add e-cigarettes to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, effectively banning their use inside bars, restaurants, workplaces and other public settings.


DFL-Rep. Laurie Halverson, who sponsors the bill, said the law currently has a loophole where e-cigarettes can thrive.

Halverson points to the appeal to teens and the documented increase in teen use of e-cigarettes as arguments to include the devices under the law.

"It's an epidemic that we need to address and we know that good public policy helps us reduce rates of smoking and helps reduce access and interest by our youth," Halverson said during a committee hearing.

Laura Smith, from ClearWay Minnesota, said the non-profit backs the bill. She said the spread of e-cigarette use among teens is a cause for concern.

"It's definitely disrupted our progress to reduce youth smoking especially," Smith said.

But opponents of the legislation say it could adversely affect former smokers who use e-cigarettes instead of other nicotine products.

More from KSTP:

Significant increase in e-cig use among youth prompts strong warning from US surgeon general

FDA to crackdown on e-cigarettes, some Minnesota cities already leading the way

New e-cigarette trend has some concerned

Testifying to a House committee, Cap O'Rourke with the Independent Vapor Retailers of Minnesota argued it could push former smokers back to the habit.

"You have a 20-year smoker who has successfully quit cigarettes for a period of time and is probably using their vapor device in their office or in their work location and they are now told that is not the case," O'Rourke said.

The bill has bi-partisan support and has a companion in the Senate.


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Kirsten Swanson

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