Hennepin County Outlaws E-Cigs on County Property

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Hennepin County is the latest in a string of areas which have successfully outlawed the use of electronic cigarettes on public property. Home to St. Paul, Minnesota, Hennepin County expanded current tobacco laws to include e-cigs in the county’s ban on smoking. The decision came as a surprise to county employees, who received an email regarding the matter on Tuesday, July 30.

Hennepin County Administrator, David Hough, is quoted as saying, “We want to make sure that our workforce and the residents, clients in the building are being protected.”

Local electronic cigarette proponents voiced their frustration in an interview with FOX9 news. “I was just a little disappointed that the county would take that stand on them…” stated St. Paul resident, Donna Bratulich.

Citizens at the consumer level are not the only folks upset by the mandate, several business owners weighed in, as well. Dan McElroy, a member of the Minnesota Restaurant Association said, “The law is very specific in how it defines smoking as involving the combustion of tobacco or other materials to create smoke. So, an e cigarette is not a cigarette or smoking device in the eyes of the law.”

It is worth noting that, despite the ruling, e cigarettes do not violate Minnesota’s Clean Air Act. The decision on the part of Hennepin County to forbid ecig use on public property may be the first instance where nicotine, regardless of source, is banned. While the notifying email was distributed to employees of the county, the ban on electric cigarettes includes non-employees, as well.