ST. PAUL, Minn., July 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- ClearWay Minnesota celebrated today that half of Minnesota's population now lives in places that restrict e-cigarette use in indoor public places. But despite 51 cities and counties across the state adding e-cigarettes to indoor air policies, state-level legislation has stalled.
"Now that half of Minnesota is protected from e-cigarette aerosol in public, it's time for state leaders to extend this protection to all Minnesotans by adding e-cigarettes to the Freedom to Breathe Act," said Andrea Mowery, Vice President at ClearWay Minnesota.
E-cigarettes are a relatively new tobacco product and were not included in the Freedom to Breathe Act when it passed in 2007. And although the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are not yet known, research shows that the aerosol they emit contains heavy metals and carcinogens.
Duluth was the first city in Minnesota to restrict e-cigarette use in indoor public spaces in 2013. Since then, cities and counties of varying size all across the state have added them to indoor policies that prohibit smoking. Workers and patrons in these areas are now assured that they will not breathe in secondhand smoke or e-cigarette chemicals as they work or enjoy activities in their communities. This not only protects bystanders from secondhand aerosol, it also prevents the modeling of recreational tobacco use to kids. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of nicotine, which is found in e-cigarettes. Exposure could harm brain development and predispose future tobacco use.
"The tobacco industry heavily markets new products such as e-cigarettes to young people," said Mowery. "As fewer young people smoke cigarettes, an increasing number are using e-cigarettes. We can't let the industry threaten the progress we've made toward a healthier future for Minnesota."
In 2014, state lawmakers made it illegal to use e-cigarettes in public schools, licensed daycare and health care facilities, government buildings, and University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities facilities, including dormitories. Progress at the state level has stalled since then, despite bipartisan support among lawmakers and strong public support. According to the most recent survey, 79 percent of Minnesotans support adding e-cigarettes to clean indoor air regulations.
"Now is the time for the Legislature to extend the same protections statewide that half of us already enjoy," said Mowery. "Lawmakers have what they need to act in the public's interest, including local policies that are working and supported from a majority of Minnesotans."
State lawmakers will convene the next legislative session in January of 2017. To learn if your city is covered by a local e-cigarette policy, or for more on how you can get involved, go to www.clearwaymn.org/action-center.
About ClearWay MinnesotaSM
ClearWay Minnesota is an independent nonprofit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN® stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with three percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit clearwaymn.org.
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SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota