State Update

States Focus on E-Cigarettes

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State legislatures around the country are continuing their focus on regulating and taxing tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco. However, over the last few years, there has been increased attention given to e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. E-cigarettes turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. These products are often made to resemble cigarettes, cigars, and pipes; however, they may also look like everyday items, such as pens and USB memory sticks, for people who wish to use the product without others noticing.

California

S.B. 648 has been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-CA). The bill extends the restrictions and prohibitions against the smoking of tobacco products to include restrictions or prohibitions against e-cigarettes in various places, including, but not limited to, places of employment, school campuses, public buildings, day care facilities, retail food facilities and health facilities. The bill also prohibits, to the extent not preempted by federal law, a person from selling or otherwise furnishing an e-cigarette to a person less than 18 years of age. The bill was scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization on August 7 and August 14, however, the bill sponsor pulled the bill down from committee consideration due to a lack of votes for passage. According to the committee clerk, the bill will be deemed a two-year bill and will be brought back for consideration in January or February 2014.

Illinois

On August 15, Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) approved S.B. 1756. The new law prohibits the distribution of alternative nicotine products to persons under the age of 18, and defines alternative nicotine products to include products such as e-cigarettes.  

Massachusetts

Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez (D-MA) has introduced H. 3639. The bill would restrict the sale of any tobacco or nicotine delivery product to minors and prohibit use of the products on public school grounds. Additionally, the bill would apply existing state public and workplace smoking bans to electronic cigarette use and restrict the distribution of product samples. H. 3639 has been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health for further consideration.

North Carolina

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) signed S. 530 into law on June 19. The new law classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products. This revised definition of tobacco products allows North Carolina to regulate e-cigarettes. The law also prohibits the sale of tobacco products, tobacco-derived products and vapor products to minors, and requires retail distributers to display a sign indicating that the sale of these products to minors is a violation of North Carolina law.

Additionally, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi, and South Carolina have passed legislation regulating e-cigarettes.

The federal government is also interested in e-cigarettes. On September 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data related to e-cigarettes. According to the CDC, e-cigarette experimentation and recent use doubled among U.S. middle and high school students during 2011–2012, resulting in an estimated 1.78 million students having ever used e-cigarettes as of 2012. Moreover, in 2012, an estimated 160,000 students who reported ever using e-cigarettes had never used conventional cigarettes.  

On September 5, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Ed Markey (D-MA) warned against the dangers of electronic cigarettes after the CDC released data showing that use of these products has more than doubled among middle and high school students since the 2011-2012 school year.

According to the CDC, e-cigarettes that are not marketed for therapeutic purposes are currently unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, according to the FDA, the agency intends to issue proposed regulations.