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New restrictions on e-cigarettes

The State of Minnesota has cracked down on electronic cigarettes – sort of.

New legislation that took effect this month bans e-cigarette use in government buildings, public schools, and most health care facilities.

Some residential health care facilities have smoking rooms where e-cigarettes can still be used.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a series of e-cigarette measures during the 2014 legislative session including indoor-use restrictions, which went into effect July 1.

The law also requires retailers selling e-cigarettes to keep them behind the counter and to be licensed.

Next year, starting Jan. 1, the law will require child-resistant packaging of e-cigarette liquids sold in Minnesota.

The law also makes it illegal for anyone under 18 to possess an e-cigarette nicotine dispenser on public school grounds.

Poison centers have reported a recent uptick in calls about exposures to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine.

Slightly more than half of these reported exposures have occurred in young children under the age of six, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Some children and toddlers who come in contact with e-cigarette devices or liquid nicotine have become very ill; some even requiring ER visits with nausea and vomiting being the most significant symptoms.

Those using these products should dispose of them properly to prevent exposure to pets and children from the residue or liquid left in the container.

Under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act e-cigarette use is now subject to the same prohibitions and restrictions as smoking in some locations, such as:

Licensed day care, including family home daycare during hours of operation.

Buildings and vehicles owned or operated by public school districts.

Health care facilities and clinics, except residents of residential health care facilities or psychiatric units can still use e-cigarettes in enclosed areas, such as smoking rooms, that meet applicable regulations.

Buildings owned or operated by the state of Minnesota, as well as Minnesota cities, counties, and townships.

Facilities owned by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the University of Minnesota.

Facilities licensed by Minnesota Department of Human Services, and those MDH-licensed facilities subject to federal licensing requirements.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale vaporized liquid (e-juice), which may contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals.

E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, and there is no body of evidence proving that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking or that the vapors are safe to inhale. Nationally, e-cigarette use among youth more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.

In short, those using e-cigarettes should make sure kids and pets can’t get at the nicotine products, be considerate of others, and be aware that health officials are not convinced the products are harmless to your health.