Time to ban vaping in public spaces

The increase in people vaping flavored nicotine devices is leading many state lawmakers to crack down on their use in public buildings and places of employment.

Passing the legislation is a no-brainer.

The House already voted 100-25 to pass HF349, which would modify the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act to include “activated electronic delivery devices.”

If the Senate follows suit and the governor signs the bill, vaping would also be banned at public meetings, on public transportation, at health care facilities and schools and university buildings.

The bill also anticipates other technology that may arrive by limiting the indoor use of any “lighted or heated” products derived from nicotine, tobacco, marijuana, other plants and synthetics intended for inhalation.

When vaping technology arrived a few years ago, it flew under the radar for a time. It was and is touted as a way for tobacco smokers to get a nicotine dose without other harmful effects of tobacco. But the problems of vaping has grown clear and grown large since.

Vaping has become the new gateway drug to hook young people on smoking after years of seeing youth smoking rates fall. The FDA called vaping an “epidemic” last year. Vaping flavors include a host of candy and fruit flavors clearly aimed at appealing to young people. And a study last year suggests that someone who vapes is four times as likely to start smoking cigarettes.

One in five Minnesota students use e-cigarettes, and youth smoking rates have increased 50 percent since 2014, according to the sponsor of the bill. And most the young e-cigarette users have never used another tobacco product before.

Allowing adult smokers to switch from tobacco smoking to vaping may indeed expose them to less harm. But that benefit will be wiped out if many more new tobacco smokers are created by enticing kids with e-cigarettes.

Including vaping in the Clean Indoor Air Act is a first step. More will need to be done to keep e-cigarettes away from kids.

— Mankato Free Press

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