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Minn. bills would treat e-cigs as standard smokes

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The growing popularity of smokeless electronic cigarettes has Minnesota lawmakers weighing whether they should be regulated in similar fashion to traditional tobacco products. 

Several bills have been introduced to keep tabs on the new fad, with hearings on a couple of them planned for Wednesday in the House Health and Human Services Committee. One would classify e-cigarettes under the state's indoor air act.

Another would explicitly bar them in schools and give municipalities greater power to set sales parameters. The e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution.

Users inhale a vapor but they don't emit the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.

Industry officials argue that they are often used by those trying to quit smoking and present a lower health risk.