Bloomington may join a growing list of Minnesota cities that have cracked down on e-cigarette use in public places. The City Council is set to vote on a tough ordinance that would restrict "vaping" beyond what state law requires.

At its Nov. 17 meeting, the council will hear public comments and is expected to vote on a proposal to ban e-cigarette use in most public places. If adopted, the ordinance would outlaw vaping lounges, which typically sell e-cigarette supplies and offer a place for vapers to "smoke" together.

Stores could still sell e-cigarettes and supplies, but users could no longer "light up" on the premises. Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that puts some restrictions on public use of e-cigarettes but does not ban their use in bars, restaurants and many other public places. Some parts of the law took effect July 1, while others will take effect Jan. 1.

However, cities are free to pass their own ordinances, and many have done so — often modeling them after the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, which is much more restrictive than the state's e-cigarette law. St. Paul, Edina, St. Anthony and Savage are among the cities that have imposed restrictions on e-cigarettes. Minneapolis is considering tougher restrictions but hasn't acted yet.

Angie Griffith is a co-owner of Smokeless Smoking, which was among the earliest e-cigarette retailers in Minnesota. Griffith operates vaping lounges in Minneapolis, Woodbury, Burnsville and Bloomington. She said the tough restrictions would not only hurt her business, but also potentially harm people who might use e-cigarettes as an aid to stop smoking regular cigarettes.

Griffith is circulating petitions in support of e-cigarette use and recently collected more than 250 customer testimonials that she compiled into a book, "The Faces of Smokeless Smoking," which was sent to Bloomington City Council members.

"We'd like them to follow the state's lead," Griffith said. "At the very least, we'd like them to amend it so we could use our own products in our own store."

Bloomington health officials have been working on the proposed ordinance since April, said Bonnie Paulson, the city's public health administrator. Concerns about youthful users are a driving factor, she said. On Monday, the state released a teen smoking study showing that 28 percent of Minnesota high schoolers have tried e-cigarettes, with 13 percent having used one within the previous 30 days.

"One of the big concerns with the City Council is related to keeping youth from using tobacco," Paulson said. Widespread vaping "is kind of a normalization that this is something people choose to do."

Paulson said "there's still not quite enough research out there" on the health effects of vaping. But, she said, "there are chemicals and nicotine and other byproducts in that vapor. It's not just water vapor."

John Reinan • 612-673-7402