Minnesota’s first regulations for electronic cigarettes are a step from becoming law. By wide margins, the Legislature adopted a health policy bill Thursday night most notable for the e-cigarette rules.
Minnesota senators have voted for a stringent set of electronic cigarette standards that would make their use unacceptable in any place regular tobacco is disallowed. The approach endorsed Thursday goes further than a House companion bill, so the two measures must be reconciled for any e-cigarette regulations to become law. A move to pare back the indoor air restrictions in the Senate bill failed on a 35-28 vote.
Supporters of defining electronic cigarettes in the same light as traditional tobacco products won a key round Monday in the Minnesota Legislature. By an 11-8 vote, lawmakers pushing for tough regulations on the fast-spreading devices defeated an effort to pare back their bill.
A Minnesota legislator is now proposing a bill that would put e-cigarettes across under the same state-wide restrictions as cigarettes. The bill from DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn would limit the use of e-cigarettes under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act.
Minnesota’s new $1.60-per-pack sales tax increase on cigarettes begins next week. Meanwhile, retailers are betting smokers will try to switch to a tobacco product not subject to the state’s tobacco taxes: electronic cigarettes.