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Conference Committee passes partial e-cig ban

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A joint House/Senate conference committee has agreed to ban the use of e-cigarettes in government buildings, schools, the University of Minnesota and campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The bill does not ban the use of the devices in bars and restaurants. The proposal would also allow businesses and local units of government to ban vaping indoors.

Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, says she personally supports a wider ban but the Minnesota House would not approve it. Liebling said legislators agreed to ban e-cigarette use in more places than initially proposed in the House.

“The restriction on vaping will not be as broad as the restriction on combustible tobacco but there will be places where you are not allowed to do it and there will be protections for children under 18 and you can’t sell at kiosks," Liebling said.

Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, says she's disappointed she couldn't pass a more aggressive approach in conference committee but is pleased a partial ban is in place.

"We almost got to the goal line but we didn't score in terms of protecting the general public from the unknown exhaled chemicals of e-cigarettes," Sheran said.

Sheran said she will pursue a more aggressive ban next session. Critics of the ban say there is no scientific evidence that vapors emitted from e-cigarettes are harmful.

The measure is included in a larger health policy conference committee report. The measure will head to Gov. Mark Dayton if both bodies pass it. Dayton told reporters on Monday that he will sign a bill that includes the ban on e-cigarettes.