E-CIGARETTE BAN: Hennepin County property now off-limits - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

E-CIGARETTE BAN: Hennepin County property now off-limits

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Smokers may be able to smoke in vehicles and their homes, but there are fewer public places to light up. Now, even electronic cigarettes are banned on Hennepin County property.

Most private buildings have a rule about smoking near entrances, but a new law is cutting a new way to cut cravings out of the picture.

"I was just a little disappointed that the county would take that stand on them because people are trying to quit," said Donna Bratulich.

E-cigarettes seemed to fill a void as smoking restrictions continued to mount by offering a way to get a nicotine fix without breaking the law, but Hennepin County employees got an e-mail clarifying the tobacco-free property policy on Tuesday that listed the devices on a list of prohibited products.

"We are proactive. We've been proactive here," said Hennepin County Administrator David Hough. "We want to make sure that our workforce and the residents, clients in the building are being protected."

Hough said the decision was made after concerns were raised last week even though e-cigarettes do not violate the state's Clean Indoor Air Act.

"The law is very specific in how it defines smoking as involving the combustion of tobacco or other materials to create smoke," Dan McElroy, of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, told FOX 9 News. "So, an e-cigarette is not a cigarette or smoking device in the eyes of the law."

McElroy told FOX 9 News he is not aware of any restaurants that ban e-cigarettes, but he has fielded several questions on the topic.

"The difference in e-cigarettes is they don't create second-hand impact," he explained.

Hennepin County's decision may mark the first ban on nicotine regardless of where it comes from, and it applies to anyone on Hennepin County property regardless of whether the person works there or not.

Metro Transit is also in the process of updating its rules to make using e-cigarettes on a bus or light rail a violation of its code of conduct.

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