Tobacco and its use have been regulated for decades. Reports of the negative public and personal health effects of traditional forms of tobacco use have increased consumer awareness. This, in turn, has encouraged people and companies to look for alternative or potentially safer forms of adult tobacco and nicotine use. Vaporizers, also known as digital, electronic or e-cigarettes, do not produce a combustible “smoke” like traditionally burned cigarettes, nor do they contain tar, a by-product of burning tobacco. Instead, they contain a small battery that converts a liquid from small cartridges into a water-based mist or vapor. They come in many forms, but most often look like a plastic or glass cigarette or rod. The liquid cartridges may contain various amounts of tobacco-based nicotine, synthetic nicotine, or no nicotine at all, and flavorings and propellants. Research studies on the personal and public health effects of the vapor produced by these products have been inconclusive.
This lack of consistent, scientific research has health groups divided. Some public health organizations believe that the products are not a safe alternative to traditional tobacco consumption and would like the Food and Drug Administration to regulate products as new or other tobacco products, as is allowed under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Other health professionals assert that nicotine vapor products may be a risk-reduced method of nicotine use and therefore may help reduce use of traditional forms of tobacco with more serious health risks. While the FDA stated in 2011 that it planned to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, no rules or regulations have been issued.
On April 25, 2014, the FDA released proposed regulations for "Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act". These regulations would include electronic cigarettes and other alternative tobacco and nicotine products. The 75-day public comment period has been extended through August 8, 2014.
Electronic cigarette and liquid cartridge manufacturers, which include some traditional tobacco companies, state that they are looking for new, potentially safer ways, to allow adults to use nicotine and tobacco products where they otherwise face restrictions on smoking in public places.
Vaporizers have been gaining popularity in the U.S. and some state legislatures are taking action to regulate these products either similarly to other tobacco products, or as different products altogether.
The following actions have been taken in recent years to regulate the sale and use of electronic vaporizing products. At least 38 states currently prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors. Missouri's legislature passed legislation but it was vetoed by the governor on July 15, 2014.
Table is a work in progress and hyperlinks will be updated as soon after new laws are adopted. This table may not necessarily include all state statutes or actions on this issue.
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Resources and News Items*
*NCSL has gathered information from many health and tobacco-related blogs and organizations that study this issue. Some of these resources come from an advocacy or industry perspective, and inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement from NCSL.
Information from Industry