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Minn. Lawmaker Proposing Statewide Restrictions On E-Cigarettes

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Communities from West Mankato to Rochester are considering or have put into effect limitations on where you can light up an e-cigarette.

Now, a Minnesota legislator is now proposing a bill that would put e-cigarettes across under the same state-wide restrictions as cigarettes. The bill from DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn would limit the use of e-cigarettes under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act.

The bill would mean you could not use an e-cigarette in indoor buildings or public spaces that ban smoking, just like traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have exploded in popularity. So far, there have been no conclusive medical studies on their health impact and that has e-cigarette fans saying let's wait before we put on any restrictions.

Since she opened her e-cigarette shop in Uptown, Sina War, an ex-smoker herself, has seen a surge in business.

"Electronic cigarettes allows me to have the same habits and allow me to cut the nicotine level down," War said.

War says Rep. Phyllis Kahn's bill will hurt those trying to quit traditional smoking

"Having her include this in the clean air act makes electronic cigarette smokers who use this to quit smoking, go back to where they were 10 months back," War said.

Kahn says she is concerned about the explosion in popularity of e-cigarettes.

"They are everywhere. Now, just think were they are going to be a year from now," Kahn said. "Just remember, we are not banning it. We are just regulating it the same way cigarettes are."

Standalone stores are opening across the Twin Cities. Traditional convenience stores are even increasing their offerings.

"It seems to be a direct marketing, no matter how they deny it, to kids with all the questions of the flavorings and all of the things that were done," Kahn said.

E-cigarettes suppliers do deny they are marketing to young people and they say to put e-cigarettes in the same category as traditional cigarettes is just wrong.

"It's called electronic cigarettes, but it is actually just vapor. It is so different from cigarettes," War said.

A number of local governments from Hennepin County to the cities of Duluth and Rochester have implemented restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes.

Kahn says her bill would eliminate the duplicate work being done at the local level to put bans in place -- saving time and taxpayer money.

Only three states Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey have put statewide restrictions in place. Minnesota would only be the fourth state.

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