Ordinance restricts indoor e-cigarette usage in public indoor spaces

ANSR staff celebrate the inclusion of electronic cigarettes in a clean indoor air ordinance in Hennepin County with Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene.

Minneapolis, Minn. – The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners showed strong leadership in protecting the health and safety of its residents on Feb. 10.

The board voted 6-1 to prohibit electronic cigarette use in most public indoor spaces. The ordinance update means the use of electronic cigarettes is not allowed anywhere conventional cigarette use is also not allowed, such as work places, restaurants and bars.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota, and this change is a necessary step in protecting the right of Minnesotans to breathe clean air,” said Commissioner Marion Greene, the champion of the ordinance. “We are also committed to health for our youngest populations. Nicotine is addictive, affects youth brain development. E-cigarette flavors are heavily targeted to youth and normalize smoking behavior.”

This ordinance change helps protect the general public from exposure to electronic cigarette emissions, which are known to contain ingredients that are harmful to human health.  Further, this ordinance upholds a smoke-free norm and protects youth from exposure to these products, which is important given that electronic cigarettes are becoming popular with high school students. The recent Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, released in November, shows 28 percent of high school students have tried e-cigarettes, and 13 percent have used or tried them in the past 30 days. Nearly a quarter of those who have tried e-cigarettes have never tried conventional tobacco products.

“This is a huge win for public health and the people of Minnesota,” said Betsy Brock, Research Director for the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR). “Hennepin County is our state’s most populated county and an economic engine for the region. This policy will protect many residents and workers. Our hope is other counties and cities, and eventually the state, will follow Hennepin’s lead.”