Dayton splits with health commissioner on e-cigsPublished 9:56am Wednesday, March 26, 2014
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton has broken with his Health Department commissioner over the extent of regulation needed on electronic cigarettes.
Dayton said he is uncomfortable with legislative efforts to put e-cigarettes in the same category as conventional cigarettes when it comes to prohibition of use in public spaces. His comments directly contradict the firm-toned testimony from Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger made just two days earlier.
“After we came down pretty hard on smokers last session, that’s probably enough for this biennium,” Dayton said, referring to tobacco tax increases last year. “We did enough to smokers last session.”
Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children’s ability to buy e-cigarettes, but he would likely oppose proposed restrictions on their use indoors.
During a Senate committee meeting Monday where the indoor air portion narrowly survived, Ehlinger said the vapor-emitting devices could undermine the state’s law barring tobacco use in public buildings and most businesses and glamorize a habit he believes could lead to a new generation of smokers.