Skip to main content

Dayton breaks with health commissioner on restricting e-cigarettes

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Minnesota lawmakers may change course on how strictly to regulate electronic cigarettes after Gov. Mark Dayton publicly disagreed with his health commissioner over whether e-cigarettes should be prohibited indoors.

Dayton said Tuesday he opposes a bill in the state Senate that would ban the use of e-cigarettes in public buildings and businesses -- treating them just like traditional tobacco cigarettes. His comments directly contradicted the testimony of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger at a Senate committee meeting Monday.

"After we came down pretty hard on smokers last session, that's probably enough for this biennium," Dayton told the Star Tribune, referring to tobacco tax increases that were enacted last year. "We did enough to smokers last session."

The bill is awaiting action in the state Senate. But in response to the governor's comments, it was moved back to committee Wednesday for discussion over whether the indoor ban would be taken out, the Associated Press reports.

Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children's ability to buy e-cigarettes and to keep them out of schools, but he would oppose making them subject to the indoor air law.

The bill's sponsor, DFL Sen. Kathy Sheran of Mankato, was caught off guard by the governor's position and said she wants to continue pressing for the broader restrictions, according to the AP.

Commissioner Ehlinger testified at a Senate committee meeting Monday, saying the vapor that is emitted from e-cigarettes could undermine the state's indoor smoking restrictions and glamorize smoking among young people.

"The state has a responsibility to act on this. This is a threat to the health of the public," Ehlinger, who is a medical doctor, told the committee.

Michael Schommer, a spokesman for Ehlinger, said the health commissioner was "providing input from a public health perspective. The governor's perspective is his own."

"I do not require my commissioners to agree with me on every issue, and I specifically gave Commissioner Ehlinger my approval to take, as the Commissioner of Health, the position he believes is right," Dayton said in a written statement to the AP.

A companion bill in the House includes the ban on children having access to e-cigarettes. It would allow state government to restrict e-cigarette use in their buildings, and private businesses could decide for themselves.

A patchwork of e-cigarette regulations is springing up in state and local governments as they try to address some of the questions surrounding the products. Some communities have banned "vaping" in public places, for example.

E-cigarette promoters want public officials to wait until research on the health effects of the chemicals has been conducted before putting restrictions in place. There isn't much research on the subject yet, although the Food and Drug Administration has begun studying the issue.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 6.44.11 PM

Standoff in Prior Lake: Man assaulted officer, broke into home

The suspect allegedly assault an officer outside Kwik Trip, fled and broke into a home.

snow - 12-10-21 - Joe Nelson - 5

Accumulating snow possible in Twin Cities next week

The storm system could arrive in the Tuesday-Wednesday timeframe.

Target store snow

With Black Friday barely underway, Target reveals Cyber Monday deals

Plans for the two-day sale were revealed Friday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.37.25 AM

Man waves replica assault weapon at drivers in downtown Minneapolis

The alarming incident was spotted by the new MPD chief, Brian O'Hara.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.29.58 AM

Extremely drunk driver arrested in Chaska

The driver was more than four times the legal limit.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 8.21.21 AM

Stillwater police looking for suspect who stole vehicle with 1-year-old inside

The suspect abandoned the vehicle with the child still inside just 5 minutes after the theft.

Screen Shot 2022-11-23 at 5.01.34 PM

Suspected Bloomington restaurant killer arrested in Oklahoma

The 47-year-old Texas man was arrested around 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Screen Shot 2022-11-24 at 9.16.39 AM

Minnetonka woman, 23, ID'd as victim killed in Minneapolis crash

The fatal crash happened near the Minneapolis Convention Center on Nov. 21.

canada-goose-g304751a8f_1280

More than 100 geese, ducks found dead on partially frozen MN lake

The discovery was made in Waseca at the weekend.

e-bike

After losing sponsor, advocates fear Minneapolis' Nice Ride could shut down

They are calling on the city to provide financial support till a new sponsor is found.

Screen Shot 2022-11-23 at 3.32.46 PM

Colleen Lindstrom announces departure from MyTalk radio show

Lindstrom's last broadcast on the long-running show will be Dec. 9.

Related