State lawmaker wants e-cigarette ban

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, is planning to introduce legislation next year that would prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.

Kahn said her bill would amend the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, which already bans traditional cigarette smoking in public places, to include electronic cigarettes in its definition of smoking.

E-cigarettes are a smoking substitute that deliver nicotine without burning tobacco. They produce vapor which the user inhales rather than smokes.

Kahn said a state law would bring more consistency than the patchwork of regulations being implemented by local governments. In addition, she’s concerned that e-cigarettes set a bad example for young people.

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“If the e-cigarettes are an attraction and lead people into smoking, then there is clearly a negative effect,” Kahn said.

Kahn said she will introduce her bill at the beginning of the 2014 session in February.

Gregory Conley, legislative director for the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, said his organization will fight the proposal.

There is no evidence that e-cigarette vapor poses any threat to bystanders, Conley said. He also rejected Kahn’s assertion that the product could be a negative influence.

“Showing smokers quitting smoking is certainly not a bad example,” Conley said. “It is not the government’s spot, outside of lewd conduct, to regulate the behavior of others based off of moral concerns.”

Conley said New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah are the only states to impose e-cigarette bans.