Starting Aug. 1, laws protecting Minnesotans from exposure to deadly secondhand smoke will expand to include the use of e-cigarettes and vapes.

Under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, the use of e-cigarettes and vapes, often called vaping, will be subject to the same prohibitions and restrictions as cigarette smoking, protecting Minnesotans from exposure to e-cigarette use in all restaurants, bars and almost all indoor workplaces and public places.

Despite common misperceptions, e-cigarette aerosol – commonly called vape smoke – contains harmful chemicals, such as ultra-fine particles, heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead, and other cancer-causing chemicals. 

Jan Malcolm, Minnesota health commissioner, said the new law underscores the fact that e-cigarettes are a health concern for Minnesotans of all ages.

“This policy change is good news for current and future generations of Minnesotans,” Malcolm said. “By limiting the use of these products in public places, we protect people from exposure to harmful chemicals and send a message to kids and teens that e-cigarette use is not a healthy behavior.”

E-cigarettes, “vapes,” e-pipes and other vaping products are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale aerosolized liquid. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and harmful to the adolescent brain. Nicotine can impact learning, memory and attention span, and it contributes to future addiction to tobacco and other substances.

The U.S. Surgeon General calls teen e-cigarette use an epidemic.

Locally, the 2017 "Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey" found that nearly 20 percent of high-school students use e-cigarettes and 40 percent have tried them. Youth e-cigarette use has surpassed conventional cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco product category among youth. This makes it critical that the general public better understand the risks of e-cigarettes.

While the law expands protections statewide Aug. 1, many Minnesota communities have been limiting e-cigarette use indoors for years. Before the state law change, at least 25 counties and 31 cities in Minnesota had added e-cigarettes to their clean indoor air policies. Most received assistance from the Statewide Health Improvement Partner-ship.

Learn more about e-cigarettes and the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act on the Minnesota Department of Health Web site at www.health. state.mn.us.

– Photo courtesy of the Internet Public Domain