E-cigarettes: What you need to know

Currently, the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits the use of combustible tobacco products in indoor public spaces; however, the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, is only prohibited in a small number of spaces.

Restricting the use of e-cigarettes in public places is imperative for the health and well-being of our communities.  E-cigarettes are currently not subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning there is no way for consumers or bystanders to know what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals and nicotine they are inhaling.

There have been no long-term studies conducted on e-cigarettes, so the lasting impact on the health of users and those exposed to secondhand vapor is unknown, but early studies have shown carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals.   

What you need to know: 

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce an inhaled aerosol. 

  • There is no way for users to know what types or concentrations of chemicals or how much nicotine they are inhaling. 
  • E-cigarettes are defined as tobacco products by the FDA and Minnesota law.
  • Studies show e-cigs contain nicotine, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other cancer causing agents. 
  • No amount of nicotine is safe for youth. It is harmful to brain development. 
  • E-cigs’ long-term impact on the health of users and bystanders is unknown. 

E-Cigarettes in Minnesota: 

  • Most e-cigarette users also use cigarettes: 65.8% of MN adults who used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days are current smokers.
  • More young Minnesotans are using e-cigarettes: 28.4% of MN high school students have tried e-cigarettes.
  • Most students who used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days – 60.1% – also used conventional tobacco products.
  • Youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising increased 250% from 2011-2013.
  • 79% of Minnesotans support restricting e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited.

How does Minnesota law treat e-cigarettes? 

  • E-cigarettes containing nicotine are taxed as tobacco products and it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.
  • Retailers must keep them behind the counter or in a locked case and obtain a tobacco license.
  • Child-resistant packaging is required on all e-cigarette liquids, and kiosk sales are prohibited.
  • E-cigarette use is still allowed in some stores, bars and restaurants, but not in:
    • Public Schools
    • Hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices
    • Most government-operated buildings, including correctional facilities
    • Any facility owned by the U of MN or MNSCU, including dorms
    • Foster homes and licensed daycare facilities, including home daycares during hours of operation
    • Counties/Cities on the map below

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