Archived Story

Austin bans e-cigs in public places

Published 11:39am Tuesday, April 8, 2014

By Trey Mewes, Austin Daily Herald

The Austin City Council approved a one-year ban of e-cigarettes in public places and businesses Monday.

Council members voted 4-3. The e-cigarette ban will go into effect about one week after the city publishes a legal notice of the council’s decision. City Clerk Ann Kasel said the moratorium could go into effect around April 17.

The measure bans e-cigarette use in public places, similar to tobacco products. It does not prevent e-cigarettes from being sold or used on private property.

E-cigarettes are a cylindrical device used to heat nicotine and produce a vapor. They have been on the market for about five years and haven’t undergone thorough testing by the Food and Drug Administration. Public health experts say e-cigarettes are filled with an unknown amount of nicotine and other chemicals. E-cigarette proponents say e-cigarettes have helped people quit smoking, though the FDA doesn’t classify them as a tobacco cessation tool.

Austin isn’t the only community discussing e-cigarette use this year. Cities across Minnesota have discussed e-cigarette regulations over the past few months. State legislators are discussing whether to add e-cigarettes to the state Clean Indoor Air Act, which would ban e-cigarettes in public places similar to other tobacco products.

The measure has already passed Senate committees and a House committee discussed a stripped-down version of the bill. Gov. Mark Dayton opposed e-cigarette regulations last month when he said tobacco users had already been hit hard by the 2013 cigarette tax increase.

The Senate measure, which was set to go to a floor vote, was pushed back into committee.