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Minnesota House votes to expand state's indoor vaping ban

Vaping would be banned from bars, restaurants and workplaces across Minnesota under a bill that passed the House on Thursday.

Posted: Mar 14, 2019 8:07 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Vaping would be banned from bars, restaurants and workplaces across Minnesota under a bill that passed the House on Thursday, a proposal that's aimed in part at reversing the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among young people.

The bill would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes wherever tobacco smoking is now banned under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, which covers the vast majority of public buildings and workplaces in the state, as well as public transportation. It would also cover more products, including any that might contain marijuana or synthetic nicotine.

The chief author, Rep. Laurie Halvorson, said e-cigarettes are "ushering in an epidemic of youth smoking." She said one in five Minnesota high school students now use them.

"We're losing ground for the first time in over 17 years of great work by Minnesotans in helping to keep smoking rates low," the Eagan Democrat said. "Now youth tobacco use is on the rise. And e-cigarettes are a direct cause."

Halvorson said e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking, adding that e-cigarette vapors contain dangerous chemicals so their use indoors undermines the state's clean air protections.

But Rep. Pat Garofalo dismissed the idea that the bill is about keeping e-cigarettes away from kids and schools, or providing healthier air. He said it's about government telling people what to do.

"Some people still actually believe in letting people make their own personal choices, and having personal freedoms, without having the nanny state tell them what to do," the Farmington Republican said.

The bill is backed by Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of more than 60 groups. Spokeswoman Laura Smith said they hope the bill will now get a hearing in the Senate, given its bipartisan support in the House, though no action has been scheduled.

Twenty-five counties and 31 cities across Minnesota have already added e-cigarettes to their clean indoor air policies, according to ClearWay Minnesota, an anti-smoking group funded via the state's 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry. The bill would extend similar restrictions statewide. It would also tighten up language against e-cigarette use in schools, though most districts already have tobacco-free policies to ensure that vaping in school is prohibited.

A narrower 2014 state law prohibited e-cigarette use at day care centers, health care facilities, state and local government buildings, in college and university buildings, and certain other facilities.

On the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday released proposed guidelines to reverse what health officials call an epidemic of underage vaping. The plan would restrict sales of most flavored products to stores that verify the age of customers upon entry or use separate, age-restricted sales areas.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 480091

Reported Deaths: 6502
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin995591576
Ramsey42700795
Dakota35723383
Anoka32968383
Washington21824253
Stearns18677200
St. Louis14644262
Scott13104104
Wright12400114
Olmsted1167988
Sherburne864873
Carver755340
Clay682284
Rice664190
Blue Earth585535
Kandiyohi576374
Crow Wing514280
Chisago493344
Otter Tail478770
Benton441090
Winona413548
Mower399231
Douglas390168
Nobles385147
Goodhue382468
Polk340762
McLeod336149
Beltrami334449
Morrison321446
Lyon311343
Itasca308245
Becker306841
Isanti303052
Carlton298344
Steele297211
Pine280316
Freeborn275923
Nicollet251241
Todd243830
Brown240037
Le Sueur230120
Mille Lacs225447
Cass217224
Waseca206317
Meeker205534
Martin186628
Wabasha18503
Roseau177617
Hubbard159740
Houston156214
Dodge15114
Renville146840
Redwood146327
Fillmore13638
Chippewa135735
Cottonwood133420
Wadena128120
Pennington125716
Faribault121216
Aitkin117633
Sibley116110
Rock115313
Watonwan11478
Kanabec106619
Pipestone100724
Yellow Medicine97517
Murray9408
Jackson92310
Swift87118
Pope7875
Marshall76615
Stevens7378
Lake72517
Clearwater71414
Lac qui Parle67916
Wilkin66410
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5093
Lincoln5022
Grant4848
Norman4648
Mahnomen4367
Unassigned43568
Kittson40421
Red Lake3534
Traverse3015
Lake of the Woods2131
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358981

Reported Deaths: 5342
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57492544
Linn20508311
Scott18171204
Black Hawk16156286
Woodbury14835211
Johnson1371072
Dubuque13438192
Dallas1120090
Pottawattamie10678140
Story1011545
Warren549170
Clinton538983
Cerro Gordo530580
Webster514686
Marshall493372
Sioux490468
Buena Vista469436
Des Moines454059
Muscatine445989
Wapello4247107
Jasper404865
Plymouth392277
Lee372051
Marion355967
Jones293254
Henry292635
Carroll284448
Bremer276154
Crawford271235
Boone257530
Washington253344
Benton249254
Mahaska222745
Jackson219638
Dickinson215938
Tama211464
Kossuth206754
Clay192725
Hamilton191041
Delaware188739
Winneshiek186626
Fayette183832
Buchanan183128
Page181319
Hardin179538
Wright179031
Harrison178369
Cedar174722
Clayton167853
Butler165431
Floyd161939
Mills161820
Poweshiek153229
Cherokee153135
Madison152817
Hancock146429
Lyon145341
Iowa143723
Allamakee143444
Appanoose138147
Grundy138030
Jefferson137232
Winnebago136830
Calhoun133010
Cass132248
Mitchell129840
Louisa127741
Union125831
Chickasaw124513
Sac123618
Emmet120840
Shelby119433
Franklin118119
Humboldt116724
Guthrie116128
Palo Alto104021
Montgomery103636
Howard102221
Clarke99020
Keokuk97329
Unassigned9270
Monroe92128
Adair91126
Ida90732
Pocahontas85119
Davis82123
Monona81325
Greene76610
Lucas72721
Osceola69714
Worth6876
Taylor66212
Fremont5819
Decatur5709
Van Buren55918
Ringgold51516
Wayne48521
Audubon4839
Adams3264
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