MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO) – More smokers are turning to electronic cigarettes as a less-expensive and less-regulated way to get their nicotine. But they’re still so new, governments and businesses are grappling with how to deal with them.
E-cigarettes have a battery-powered heating element that produces vapor rather than smoke. They’re not restricted under Minnesota’s Clean Indoor Air Act, but many businesses – including the Minnesota Twins – are telling customers to put them away.
The team’s senior director of communications, Kevin Smith, says the restriction has been under consideration for some time.
“Because of the proliferation of it, we want to make it crystal clear that Target Field is a non-smoking venue of any kind,” Smith said.
Smith says an increasing number of fans had been spotted using the e-cigarettes, so stadium announcer Adam Abrams now has an extra line in his pre-game announcements.
Twins fan Jay Rudi of Edina appreciates the team’s policy.
“When I bring my family here, I don’t want to have to be breathing in smoke,” Rudi said.
Sina War, owner of Uptown Vapor Shoppe, says her store has been in business since April. She says many people misunderstand how e-cigarettes work.
“We call it ‘vaping’ because it’s vapor,” War said.
It may look and feel like smoking, but the e-cigarettes aren’t loaded with tobacco. They’re filled with liquids, in flavors like Red Bull, cupcake and mango.
Most of those liquids contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.
“It just smells like what you’re vaping on, so if you’re vaping on lemonade, it just smells like lemonade,” War said.
Nancy Carlson of Minnetonka talked her cigar-smoking husband, Brian, into visiting the Uptown Vapor Shoppe in hopes that he’ll make the switch.
“We have a shed, and he’s banished to the shed in the winter time,” Carlson said.
The FDA has indicated it may start regulating e-cigarettes in the fall. For now, there are few studies into whether they’re actually safe.
“It’s not hurting anyone around you,” War said. “It’s helping the person actually using it.”
Advocates for e-cigarettes wish they could take the word “cigarette” out of it because of the negative connotation.
In California, they’re known as “personal vaporizers,” or PVs.