While DC regulators ponder, states take the initiative

blackboard - Clay Shonkwiler 300x180The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is this week again hoping to gather more insight on e-cigarettes as it ponders the final form of its deeming regulations.

The federal agency is holding its second workshop on e-cigarettes and health today and tomorrow (9th-10th March), focusing on personal health impacts and following on from a December workshop which covered “product science, protective packaging, constituent labelling, and environmental impact”.

The FDA then intends to hold a final workshop looking at public health issues involving “the impact of e-cigarettes on the population, including discussions of product appeal (e.g., impact of advertising, marketing, flavorings, consumer perceptions), impact on nonusers (second and thirdhand exposures), and product labelling”.

This event is expected in the coming months, and give the FDA a further understanding of the market it sought to regulate with the so-called deeming regulations issued nearly a year ago.

While the FDA continues to educate itself, however, other levels of government across the U.S. are already acting to expand their e-cigarette oversight.

For instance, 41 of the 50 states have enacted youth access laws to ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors, while four of the remainder – Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas – have also introduced bills this session to prohibit youth sales.

Altogether, legislation related to e-cigarettes has been introduced in at least 27 states during the 2015 sessions of their legislatures.

As well as mandating minimum purchase ages, some proposed laws seek to include e-cigarettes in comprehensive smoke-free policies, although so far only three states – New Jersey, North Dakota, and Utah – prohibit indoor e-cigarette use in workplaces, restaurants, and bars.

Many states are considering levying a “sin tax” on the products to generate additional revenue, although only two (Minnesota and North Carolina) currently impose any e-cig-specific tax.

And other bills have been introduced that would significantly restrict e-cigarette use, including laws to ban Internet sales; impose licensing requirements; prohibit the sale of refillable and/or flavoured e-liquids; require child-resistant packaging and/or warning labelscriminalise the marketing of vapour products to minors; ban “proximate vaping” in vehicles with children; and classify nicotine as a Schedule III controlled substance.

What This Means: These regulatory efforts are only the beginning. There are nearly 90,000 local governments in the U.S., almost all of which have the power to impose additional restrictions on e-cigarettes.

So whatever the FDA decides – and whenever it finally does that – the industry is still likely to face many small battles in communities around the country. What the FDA’s decision will do, as well as providing a national regulatory framework for e-cigs, is determine the scope of those local debates.

– Carly Souther ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Clay Shonkwiler

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