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News Summary

Minnesota Legislature moves to regulate e-cigarettes. But how much remains unclear.

Publication Date: 5/5/2014
  • Author:Brian Bakst, Associated Press
  • Publication:twincities.com

Minnesota lawmakers moved Monday to regulate the sale and use of electronic cigarettes with measures particularly fashioned to stop children from gaining access. But it remained unclear if anti-smoking groups would achieve their ultimate objective this year: To classify the devices like standard tobacco products.

The House advanced limitations on the fast-spreading devices as part of broader health policy legislation that passed by a comfortable margin. The bill would expressly bar sales to minors, outlaw their use on school property, prohibit their sales from mall kiosks and require their nicotine liquid come in child-resistant packaging to prevent poisoning. The bill also bars e-cigarette use in state-owned buildings.

E-cigarettes are thin, cylindrical devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution that users inhale. Unlike regular cigarettes, they don't emit smoke or tar, but there is debate over whether the vapor is clean or laden with chemicals on the way out. The Food and Drug Administration is conducting studies on e-cigarettes but has given no indication of when the findings will be ready.

Democratic Rep. Laurie Halverson, the chief House proponent of e-cigarette restrictions, hailed the steps as a positive first effort for lawmakers trying to get their hands around cigarette substitutes that burst onto the scene within the last decade...