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E-Cigarette Legislation Roundup for January 2014

Popularity of e-cigarettes has increased dramatically recently, both as a substitute for analog smoking and as a cessation device for smoking analogs. With this popularity comes worry from politicians and the general public on the safety of e-cigarettes and the lack of legislation on e-cigarettes and businesses who sell them.  Regardless of if you feel that legislation, bans, and taxation are the way to go or not, it is important to be aware of the legalities of e-cigarettes around the country. Especially since what happens in one city or state could easily happen to yours.

Legislation Pending or Passed for California

  • The City of Norwalk, CA (Los Angeles County) has voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes as well as any vaporizing device that uses a liquid regardless of the liquid contains nicotine or not. The ban applies to public recreational areas and any city owned or maintained property, including employee work areas. Playgrounds, parks, swimming areas, hiking trails, campgrounds, and sports fields are all public recreational areas.
  • The city of South San Francisco has issued a 45 day moratorium in regards to e-cigarettes, using this time to determine their safety and is a possible ban is called for.
  • The Los Angeles City Council is working to enact an ordinance that will restrict and prohibit e-cigarettes the same way analog cigarettes are restricted and prohibited. As of this time no date has been set when the City Council will consider the ordinance, but the Los Angeles City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging & River Committee is being pushed to consider the proposed ordinance as soon as possible.
  • Hayward, CA has placed a 45 day moratorium while the city determines how they will regulate stores that sell e-cigarettes. The city currently has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.
  • The La Mesa, CA, City Council will be meeting on the 28th of January where the Mayor will be pushing for a e-cigarette ban.

Legislation Pending or Passed for Texas

  • The Rockwall, TX has voted to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
  • Midwestern State University of Texas has included e-cigarettes in it’s tobacco-free campus policy.
  • Desoto, TX, school district has included e-cigarettes in it’s tobacco-free campus policy. More such policies are sure to come.
  • Killeen, TX, school district has  included e-cigarettes in it’s tobacco-free campus policy.
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio will become a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus later this summer. This ban includes the use of e-cigarettes.
  • The Dallas public transportation, or DART, has determined that they will be handling e-cigarettes the same as they treat traditional cigarettes. In short, the use of e-cigarettes on DART is strictly forbidden.
  • San Marcos, TX, has banned the use of e-cigarettes in and around municipal facilities, city parks and athletic facilities. Then come June, the ban will spread to businesses , restaurants and bars. Specific designated outdoor areas of bars and restaurants will be except from this ban until even these areas will be smoke and e-cigarette free in 2015.

Legislation Pending or Passed for Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma has banned the use of e-cigarettes on all state owned and leased property. This ban takes effect starting Jan 1, 2014.

Legislation Pending or Passed for Minnesota

  • Mankato, MN, has banned the use of e-cigarettes  in public, indoor spaces where smoking is not allowed.

Legislation Pending or Passed for Illinois

  • Chicago has voted to treat e-cigarettes similarly as they do analog cigarettes. The ban restricts the use of e-cigarettes from being used in any public place and must remain at least 15 feet away from any entrance to a public building. E-cigarettes and supplies must be sold from behind counters, in order to better keep such items out of the hands of minors.

Legislation Pending or Passed for Kentucky

Two bills in Kentucky (HB 173, HB 220) have been introduced to the legislature that would restrict the use of e-cigarettes and heavily tax the sale of e-cigarettes.

If enacted, HB 173 would:

  • Ban smoking in thousands of additional workplaces and public places in Kentucky, but would also deceptively redefine ‘smoking’ to include the use of electronic cigarettes and prohibit their use anywhere smoking is prohibited (including retail e-cigarette stores)

If enacted, HB 220 would:

  • Tax e-cigarette devices at 40% of the price paid by the retailer to purchase the product
  • Define e-cigarette devices (regardless of nicotine content) as “tobacco products”
  • Tax smokeless tobacco products at 40% (a tax increase of over 150%)
  • Require e-cigarette retailers to be licensed to sell ‘tobacco products’
  • Mandate that e-cigarette retailers may only purchase e-cigarette devices from tobacco distributors licensed by the State of Kentucky

Legislation Pending or Passed for Rhode Island

Two Rhode Island bills (HB 7021, HB 7133), if passed, would restrict e-cigarette sellers greatly while also heavily taxing the sale of e-cigarettes.

If enacted, House Bill 7021 would not only ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but would also:

  • Define e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” for regulatory purposes.
  • Require a retailer conducting an online sale to: (1) obtain a copy of the buyer’s driver’s license; (2) obtain a statement from the buyer affirming that he/she is the person pictured; and (3) send the package through a service that checks the ID of the buyer at delivery. Retailers would be required to perform this check every time a consumer places an order.
  • Mandate that e-cigarette retailers in Rhode Island obtain a tobacco license and only buy their e-cigarettes from licensed wholesalers or distributors.

If enacted House Bill 7133 would:

  • Apply a punitive excise tax of 80% of wholesale price on all e-cigarette devices

What Does This All Mean?

How you take the above legislation all depends on your view of e-cigarettes. If you feel that e-cigarettes are no different than analogs and have the same health concerns and risks of use, then it would be recommeded that you contact your local representatives to thank them for work well done. If you feel that e-cigarettes are much safer than analogs, have little to no health concerns for both the user and those around the user, and are extremely useful cessation devices then it is recommended that you contact your local representatives to make them aware of all the studies that have been done on e-cigarettes and their safety. Even if your city or state is not listed above, contact your local representatives in order to keep such laws, bans, regulations, and taxation from affecting your ability to vape.

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