[MMA News Now, Feb. 27, 2014] On Feb. 26, the House Health and Human Services Policy committee considered two bills that would place stricter regulations on e-cigarette devices.
The bills, authored by Rep. Laurie Halvorson (DFL – Eagan) and Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL – Minneapolis), called for prohibiting e-cigarette use indoors just as state law bars the use of combustible tobacco in most indoor public places. However, after hearing opposition, the committee cut the inclusion of e-cigarettes into the state’s Freedom to Breathe Act.
The committee did, however, approve stipulations that would require retailers to keep the products behind store counters, enhance local enforcement of retailing regulations and prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in schools.
The House version (HF 1931) was passed as amended and referred to the House State Government Operations Committee. The Senate companion (SF 2027), authored by Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL – Mankato), is expected to receive its first hearing March.
Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, M.D., as well as representatives from a coalition of public health advocates, of which the MMA is a member, testified in support of the proposals, arguing that legislation is needed to preserve the integrity of the state’s clean indoor air quality standards. They also cited the lack of significant study on the devices.