MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Freedom to Breathe coalition, a group of leading Minnesota health organizations, responded today to Minneapolis, Bloomington and Olmsted County taking steps to prohibit e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited.
"We commend these communities for protecting youth and upholding a high standard of clean indoor air that a strong majority of Minnesotans – 79 percent – support," said coalition co-chair Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota. "They join the nearly 20 cities and counties that have acted to protect the health of their citizens. It's time for the Legislature to act."
Each community voted to limit e-cigarette use in public indoor environments, including bars and restaurants:
- The Minneapolis City Council's Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee voted unanimously in support of the proposal on Monday. The full Council is scheduled to vote on this measure on Friday, December 5.
- The Bloomington City Council also passed their proposal unanimously on Monday and went further, restricting sampling of products in retail stores and setting a minimum price on cigars.
- The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners passed their proposed ordinance today and also restricted sampling of products in retail stores.
Nearly 20 Minnesota communities, including Duluth, Mankato, Edina, Eden Prairie, Moorhead and Beltrami County, have updated local ordinances to restrict e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. Although some communities took this step before the 2014 Legislative Session, many held off, pending statewide legislation.
A statewide bill passed in 2014 prevented e-cigarette use in many places, including hospitals, government-owned buildings and buildings on college campuses. But this fell short of the bill's original intent to restrict e-cigarette use in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants. As a result, many cities and counties have taken it upon themselves to protect clean indoor air in their communities.
"Good policy change often starts at the local level," said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and co-chair of the Freedom to Breathe coalition. "In 2007, the Legislature recognized the groundswell of local support for limiting smoking in all workplaces. They passed the Freedom to Breathe Act, and we are all healthier for it. They now have an opportunity to uphold the integrity of that law, by including e-cigarettes in it."
The Freedom to Breathe coalition is a group of Minnesota's leading health and nonprofit organizations who share a goal of maintaining the strong standard of clean air made possible by the Freedom to Breathe Act. Freedom to Breathe partners include: Allina Health, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Centra Care Health System, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, ClearWay Minnesota, Four Corners Partnership, HealthPartners, LAAMPP Institute, Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, Metro-MN Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society, Minnesota Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Minnesota Medical Association, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Southwest Community Health Improvement Program (C.H.I.P.) and Twin Cities Medical Society.
SOURCE Freedom to Breathe Coalition