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E-Cigarette Bill Clears Senate Commerce Committee

Bill would include e-cigarettes in Freedom to Breathe Act and keep them out of kids' hands

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Senate Commerce Committee passed Senate File 2027, a bill that would uphold Minnesota's strong standard of clean indoor air by adding e-cigarette use to the Freedom to Breathe Act. SF 2027 will also take steps to keep e-cigarettes out of kids' hands by keeping them behind the counter, licensing retailers and banning them from Minnesota schools.

"There is a lot that we don't know about e-cigarettes, including the secondhand health effects of their vapor," said Senator Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato). Sen. Sheran was chief author of the Freedom to Breathe Act in 2007, which eliminated smoking in workplaces, including bars and restaurants. "This bill does not limit an adult's choice to use e-cigarettes. It just doesn't ask the public to share that risk."

A recent poll from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota shows that a large majority of Minnesotans – 87 percent – said that the statewide smoking ban was the right decision for Minnesota. Seventy-nine percent support expanding the law to include e-cigarettes, and 87 percent support keeping e-cigarettes behind the counter so they are less visible and accessible to youth.

"We have to adapt our laws to a changing market and new products," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "The state has a responsibility to act when an unknown and potentially dangerous substance is introduced into our clean air."

"Many studies have shown great health benefits of having smoke-free indoor air," Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay Minnesota, told the committee. "It's not hard to see why the Freedom to Breathe Act is so popular. Minnesotans have come to expect this as the standard, and that standard should be upheld."

SF 2027 was passed by the committee, despite an attempt to strip out the clean air section of the bill.  Senate Commerce was the fourth and final committee to support this legislation, which will head to the floor of the Senate in coming weeks.

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. Since the law's passage in 2007, clean indoor air has become the standard that Minnesotans expect and overwhelmingly support.

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 Medical Association, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Southwest Community Health Improvement Program (C.H.I.P.) and Twin Cities Medical Society.

SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota

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