On April 25, FDA announced that it will regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”) as tobacco products and not as drug-delivery devices, which are subject to more stringent regulation. FDA said it will propose rule changes to treat e-cigarettes the same as cigarettes and other tobacco products. While FDA regulation is coming into focus, uncertain issues involve how state and local governments will regulate e-cigarettes. It is critical that e-cigarette manufacturers and vendors gain an awareness of this rapidly changing regulatory landscape.
For instance, in Washington state, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recently promulgated regulations to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and prohibit use of e-cigarettes in public places. Under the new regulations, e-cigarettes are treated the same as cigarettes under the state’s Smoking in Public Places law. E-cigarettes are allowed only in public places where minors are lawfully prohibited, places of employment that are not public places, and retail outlets that exclusively sell or promote electronic smoking devices. Also, the regulations prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes for youth under age 18. Copies of the regulations are available at http://www.tpchd.org/news.php?nid=647
Regulations such as these are imposed on the basis of governmental authority to provide for and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. As state and local governments increase their focus on the sale and use of e-cigarettes, the Troutman Sanders Tobacco practice will continue to monitor development in this area.