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Hennepin County bans e-cigarettes

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Hennepin County is banning e-cigarettes on county-owned property as part of its updated tobacco-free policy.

Fox 9 reports county employees received an email Tuesday clarifying the new rules, which apply to everyone, not just employees.

"The FDA has not weighed in on whether or not it's a smoking cessation device or the health implications," Hennepin County Administrator David Hough told the television station.

More and more Minnesotans have turned to e-cigs as a means to quit smoking since a cigarette tax hike went into effect July 1, spiking the average price of a pack of smokes to at least $7.50.

E-cigarettes heat liquid containing nicotine to produce vapor. In addition to water, the e-cigs typically contain vegetable glycerine, artificial flavoring and sometimes, propylene glycol, which is also found in asthma inhalers, according to a USA TODAY report.

"E-cigarettes as a whole have no secondhand smoke," said Ray Story, chief executive officer of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, told USA TODAY. "They don't emit anything."

But health professionals aren't recommending the electronic version as a stop-smoking solution because lack of federal regulation means there's no telling what other toxins e-cigs contain.

"What you’re inhaling is going past metal that’s vaporizing a chemical. There are chemical reactions that are happening," Karina DiLuzio, Tobacco Intervention Specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, said in a previous report.

Although e-cigarettes don't violate Minnesota's Clean Indoor Air Act, Hennepin County might be the first of many to prohibit the devices.

Fox 9 says Metro Transit is also in the process of updating their policy to restrict the use of e-cigarettes on buses or light rail trains.

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