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E-cigs could soon be illegal in MN bars and restaurants

A bill to ban e-cigarettes is picking up support in the State Legislature.

A group of state lawmakers is aiming to toughen the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act in an effort to crack down on vaping in public. 

The bill, HF 349, was introduced last month by DFL state Rep. Laurie Halverson, and on Thursday, picked up two co-authors: Rep. Liz Olson and Rep. Alice Mann.

If approved, it would add e-cigarettes to the ban on smoking in "in public places, places of employment, public transportation, and at public meetings," according to the wording of the proposed bill.  

However, the bill seems to take aim at smoking in bars and restaurants — though the wording makes clear that smoking would still be permitted outside of such establishments.

Halverson tells KSTP that the current law has a loophole "where e-cigarettes can thrive."

She added that one reason to include them in the law is the recent rise in vaping among teens, which the FDA called an "epidemic" last year. 

As the Post Bulletin points out, Halverson's proposal has a similar companion bill in the Senate.

Both measures would also include continued funding for the state’s quit-smoking program, the paper says. 

Halverson's bill has now been referred to the House Commerce Committee, which will decide whether the legislation makes it to the House floor for a full vote.

It's not clear when the committee will take up the e-cigarette bill, as its online schedule does not yet include a date for a hearing. 

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