St. Peter to ban use of e-cigarettes in city facilities

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It appears a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in city facilities in St. Peter is just around the corner.

The Mankato Free Press reports that the proposal to ban the devices was introduced by St. Peter City Administrator Todd Prafke in a brainstorming session Wednesday with the St. Peter City Council.

Prafke said he came up with the idea after a city employee stopped some people from smoking e-cigarettes around city facilities after mistaking them for regular cigarettes.

Powered by batteries, e-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes, but don't burn tobacco. Instead, the devices emit doses of vaporized nicotine.

After a discussion, the St. Peter City Council decided to regulate the use of e-cigarettes in city facilities, much in the way regular cigarettes and cigars are already prohibited.

The Free Press said the proposed ban concerned City Council member Jerry Pfeifer, who was worried it was "another example of Big Brother stepping into our lives."

According to the paper, Prafke will next have city officials draw up basic amendments to city ordinances to implement his proposed ban.

If the state decides to regulate e-cigarettes, changes can be made to the ordinances, he said.

Earlier this month, state Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) said she plans to introduce legislation in the 2014 session that would add the vapor devices to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

In September, the city of Duluth banned the use of e-cigarettes in most public establishments.

The Duluth News Tribune says ordinances proposing the ban were introduced by City Council member Jennifer Julsrud, who cited medical experts' concerns over the potential harm of chemicals in e-cigarettes.

“I wrote these ordinances and I pushed for them because I want to protect kids, and I believe in supporting clean air,” Julsrud told the paper.

Hennepin County also bans the use of e-cigarettes on county property, as does Target Field.

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