Minnesota House votes to ban e-cigarettes indoors

The Minnesota House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to ban people from using e-cigarettes indoors despite opposition from some Republicans over the role of government.

The 100-25 vote moves the legislation, authored by state Rep. Laurie Halverson, to the state Senate.

“This policy is important for the health of Minnesotans,” said Halverson, DFL-Eagan, during floor debate on the bill. “And it’s time for us as lawmakers to bring clean indoor air across the board to all communities in Minnesota.”

The bill bans people from using e-cigarettes in public spaces like restaurants, on public transportation, or in workplaces. E-cigarette usage is already prohibited in some places, such as government buildings.

Some Republicans opposed the bill, with a few saying that vaping has value as a smoking cessation option. Others said it was not the role of government to decide.

“It’s about government telling people what to do,” said state Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington. “I’m going to lose this vote, but I’m hoping there’s a couple people in this chamber that see things the way I do and will vote no on this bill.”

Advocates for the legislation cheered the vote.

“Minnesotans expect and deserve clean indoor air,” Molly Moilanen, co-chairwoman of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, said in an emailed statement. “Thank you to leaders from both sides of the aisle in the Minnesota House for protecting and strengthening our freedom to breathe.”