3/6/2014 4:24:00 PM E-cigs regulations being reviewed by state legislature
“Vapor lounges” or electronic cigarette shops have been open for business in Chisago County for quite sometime; but there’s been no state regulation of “nicotine delivery devices” on the books. The market has proliferated under piecemeal enforcement left up to each jurisdiction addressing local entrepreneurs. Municipalities such as Lindstrom, enacted ordinances to regulate these enterprises, without state statutory support. And, area school district officials have basically relied on nobody challenging district policy as they crackdown on this new nicotine frontier.
If the state legislature gets its work done, though, this session will probably adjourn with new state law regarding electronic nicotine delvery devices. John Olinger, Lindstrom city administrator said, that based on city attorney advice Lindstrom opted to re-write city code to regulate e-cigs the same as tobacco. The state legally could have challenged Lindstrom, he added, or people could have argued a citation in court, minus state laws granting the authority. But there’s been no groundswell opposing the city treating these electronic devices the same as tobacco. A couple bills were introduced last week in St. Paul that would include electronic nicotine delivery devices within Minnesota’s Clean Indoor Air Act. (HF 1931 and SF 2027) The measures clearly grant authority to local governments and the state to license and regulate electronic nicotine delivery devices much the same way tobacco is controlled.
Schools would also have statutory authority to prohibit electronic cigarettes from school property. Additional language in the legislationincludes: sales of these devices to minors would be banned; single packs out for sale in a display would not be allowed, nor would vending machine sales be allowed. The exception is for a smoke shop or any establishment that makes 90 percent of revenues through tobacco-related products...AND where no person younger than 18 is allowed to enter. Anybody younger than 18, using a false identification to purchase electronic nicotine devices, will be commiting a petty misdemeanor. Criminal penalties similar to those for tobacco offenses are extended to sellers of the devices. The MN House Health and Human Services Policy Committee heard versions of the bill House File 1931 and sent it to House Government Operations Committee, which will continue review this week. The state’s Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger spoke at a House committee meeting last week in support of the regulations and restrictions.
Not everybody is behind all of the House File provisions, however. One state representative said the MN Clean Indoor Air Act was based on scientific research but he said there is no scientific basis on which to include electronic nicotine delivery under “smoking” in the Act.