An article by the Troutman Sanders tobacco practice appears in the February issue of Smokeshop Magazine. The article, titled “E-Cigs at the Forefront,” discusses the growing momentum for state-level regulation of tobacco product alternatives, with e-cigarettes attracting the most attention. The full text of the article can be found here.
State-level regulation of e-cigarettes has been focused on three primary areas – taxation, youth access, and public use restrictions. With regards to taxation, while Minnesota is currently the only state to have enacted a tax on e-cigarettes, recently introduced bills in many states also propose to tax the products. A handful of other states – Arkansas, Hawaii, and Wyoming – have passed legislation that bars the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, with similar bills pending in many other states. Additionally some cities, namely Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, have taken steps to restrict the public use of e-cigarettes in a similar fashion to cigarettes.
Although restricting youth access to e-cigarettes has clear benefits, it is not apparent that the same benefits are offered by restricting public use of the product. There is no research that suggests that the vapor generated by e-cigarettes bears the same health risks as smoke from cigarettes , as the product is not combusting tobacco and therefore does not generate combusted tobacco smoke, secondhand or otherwise. As taxation of tobacco products is introduced as a measure to offset the public health costs of smoking, there is also no health-related basis to support the taxation of e-cigarettes on the same level as traditional tobacco products. States would do well to weigh these factors, and the potential positive impact of increased e-cigarette usage, when they are considering these measures.