Pace of E-Cigarette Regulations Slows at the State Level

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Pace of E-Cigarette Regulations Slows at the State Level

A man using an electronic cigarette

NATIONAL REPORT — Tobacco legislation continues to light up local and state agendas, but recent numbers indicate states are cooling to measures aimed at electronic cigarettes.

Citing data from a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said that state legislative activity to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes peaked in 2015 but has since slowed down.

The peak came after the CDC reported that e-cigarettes were more widely used by U.S. youth than traditional tobacco products.

According to JAMA, CDC researchers assessed five types of state and territorial laws:

  1. Bans on e-cigarettes and conventional tobacco smoking in restaurants, bars and worksites;
  2. Requirements to obtain a retail license to sell e-cigarettes;
  3. Bans on self-service displays of e-cigarettes;
  4. Increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21; and
  5. Levying an excise tax on e-cigarettes.

As of Sept. 30, 2017, 16 states had none of the five laws, JAMA said. However, self-service displays for e-cigarettes were prohibited in 26 states; retail licenses for e-cigarette sales were required in 16 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and e-cigarettes were taxed in eight states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition, e-cigarette use and smoking were banned in restaurants, bars and worksites in eight states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico; and the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 21 was prohibited in five states, Washington, D.C. and Guam.

In October, New York became the ninth state to add e-cigarette use to its indoor smoking ban. In all, a third of the 27 states, plus Washington, D.C., that prohibit tobacco smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces also prohibit the use of e-cigarettes, JAMA reported.

While the Food and Drug Administration is authorized to regulate tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, "state, local, territorial, and tribal tobacco control strategies are an important complement to federal regulation, which can help reduce the public health risks of e-cigarettes, particularly among young persons," CDC report said.