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House Health omnibus bill regulates e-cigarettes, bans tanning beds for minors

Posted by: Abby Simons under Minnesota legislature Updated: May 6, 2014 - 11:09 AM

From e-cigarettes to banning tanning beds for minors, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed its Health and Human Services Omnibus bill by an 86-46 vote Monday, regulating a variety of areas. Here are the highlights:

E-Cigarettes: The House was first to pass legislation regulating e-cigarettes, a fast-growing industry that the bill’s sponsor said is creating growing concern among lawmakers.  The House bill prohibits use of e-cigarettes, commonly called “vaping,” on public school property and in state government buildings, allows local governments to regulate e-cigarettes and bans the sale of the products to minors. It also requires child-resistant packaging for the e-cigarette liquid, which contains nicotine and has caused tenfold increase calls p to the Minnesota Poison Control Center from 2012 to 2013 from children consuming the product. An added provision also bans e-cigarette sales from retail kiosks, which would make the products less visible in environments such as shopping malls.

Despite the amendments, the bill is still less stringent than a Senate version expected to land on the floor this week, places vaping under the same public space restrictions that apply to tobacco under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act.  The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL- removed the language in the interests of getting her bill out of committee. Now, she said, people are changing their minds on the devices they once considered benign.

“I’ve had people who have gone from ‘I think these (devices) are a good idea’ to ‘I’m with you 100 percent,’” she said.

Smoke-free foster care: Licensed foster homes must now maintain a smoke-free environment. The bill prohibits smoking indoors in foster homes, as well as in vehicles and outdoors when a child is present and exposed to smoke. The Senate version awaits debate.

Banning tanning bed use by minors: The bill prohibits children under 18 from using commercial tanning equipment, with petty misdemeanor fines for violations.

Strengthening oversight for nurses: This bill, authored in response to the Star Tribune's series on chemically addicted nurses, strengthens the authority of professional health licensing boards over nurses who could pose a public health risk. The bill clarifies that if a license holder violates the rules laid out by a disciplinary monitoring program, action can be taken by the board, including suspending a license if the board believes a health professional presents an imminent risk of harm.

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