A number of states are making their own decisions about regulating e-cigarettes, as they await the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rules about the devices. Four states have included e-cigarettes in indoor smoking bans, and more are considering following suit.
States are weighing questions including who should be able to use e-cigarettes, how they should be taxed, whether they should be subject to indoor smoking bans and whether they are tobacco products, The Washington Post reports.
Utah, North Dakota, Arkansas and New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia, already include e-cigarettes in indoor smoking bans. California, Connecticut and Massachusetts are considering similar legislation. Nine states classify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. California has restricted online advertising for e-cigarettes.
Seven states have passed laws that define the devices as something other than tobacco products, such as an “alternative nicotine product” or a “vapor product.”
Health advocacy groups including the American Lung Association want e-cigarettes to be classified as tobacco products. They say the devices, which use flavored vapors, are marketed toward children. E-cigarette makers want the devices to be seen as a safer alternative to cigarettes, which can be used to quit smoking altogether.
“Our goal as an industry is to distinguish ourselves from cigarettes, and there’s a very important reason that we want to be defined at the state level not as a tobacco product,” Eric Criss, President and Chief Executive of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Group, told the newspaper. “We believe the product is a good alternative, and the goal should be to move people down the risk ladder from cigarettes.”
The attorneys general of 41 states recently asked the FDA to issue regulations for e-cigarettes by the end of October. They said they want to ensure e-cigarette companies do not continue to sell or advertise to minors.