Category Archives: e-cig bans

E-cig legislative roundup: Possible ban on e-cig sales to minors in Montana; Michigan governor vetoes e-cig bills; Island of Hawaii bans e-cigs in public places

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A bill was introduced during this session of the Montana State Legislature to ban e-cigarette sales to minors. I find this is a tad odd because the Food and Drug Administration is considering rules to ban e-cigarette sales to minors nationwide. However, I have no idea what the timeline is for those final FDA rules — it could be another year or more. The FDA draft rules released several months ago generated 135,000 comments which the FDA is still sorting through.

According to this Independent story on the bill, Montana is just one of 10 states in the country that still allows e-cigarette sales to minors. This story is pretty sympathetic to a local vaping store. The owner claims that he will sell e-cigarettes to kids under 18 only if they have a permission slip from their parent and that he never sells nicotine products to kids. (Colour me cynical …. but my bullshit alarm was going off somewhat on that one. In any case, I’ve seen plenty of kids buying e-cig products pretty easily at Montana minimarts, all this guy has to do is sell the inhaler.)

“I do know of quite a few kids that have curtailed their [tobacco] habit or quit it all together by replacing it with something that’s not nearly as harmful as the tobacco products,” said store co-owner Mark Townsend.

Well, maybe, but again, my bullshit alarm is going off. The data is pretty sketchy about whether or not e-cigs help people quit smoking. I can believe for a 20- or 30-year smoker who has tried everything else, why not use e-cigarettes to quit? But, where the store owner is wrong is studies have shown that more kids are using e-cigs now rather than cigarettes not to quit smoking, but because they are easy to get and kids have been given the idea they’re harmless. They’re going straight to e-cigs to begin with. And that’s nicotine. And that’s still turning them into nicotine junkies.

Anyway, according to Alex Clark, legislative director for the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, his group has a concern with language in the bill lumping e-cigarettes in with tobacco products. Clarks calls this “an intentional, almost politically motivated mischaracterization.” The whole issue of lumping e-cigs in with tobacco products is pretty controversial, as we will see in Michigan.

Michigan bills vetoed

Gov. Rick Snyder this week vetoed bills regulating e-cigarettes and it sounds like a good thing, because it sounded like some sneaky kind of pro-e-cigarette industry end-around. I don’t have all the details, but one of the problems with these bills is they specifically designated e-cigs as a non-tobacco product, but would exclude other non-tobacco nicotine products from this definition (like nicotine gum or other types of inhalers, I assume). The legislation would have banned e-cig sales to minors. Like I said earlier, this is happening soon on a national level anyway.

Snyder vetoed the bills, saying the bills did not go far enough and would have just created confusion about e-cig regulation when the FDA is addressing this on a federal level. It’s telling to me that health organizations praised the vetoes, while the loudest critic was a Republican legislator, which makes me suspicious about what his real motives are.

“We need to make sure that e-cigarettes and other nicotine-containing devices are regulated in the best interest of public health,” Snyder said in a statement. “It’s important that these devices be treated like tobacco products and help people become aware of the dangers e-cigarettes pose.”

According to this story, the Michigan State Medical Society, which represents 15,000 doctors, praised Snyder.

“These bills would have been a giant step backwards, and Gov. Snyder was wise to veto them,” said James Grant, M.D., the group’s president.

Hawaii bans e-cigs in public places

The Island of Hawaii (not the whole state, just the Big Island), recently passed an ordinance banning e-cigs in public places islandwide. Essentially, e-cigs will be treated the same as cigarettes. Not only can you not use an e-cig in a bar or a restaurant, but they are banned at beaches and parks. (Maybe a bit much since e-cigs don’t have the littering issue that cigarettes have.)

More and more cities are banning e-cigs in public places as people simply don’t trust that the steam from e-cigs is completely benign. I don’t think there is a statewide public ban on e-cigs yet, but I like that they are getting people’s attention.

France cracks down on e-cigarettes, tobacco packaging

France, which all but epitomizes European cool when it comes to cigarettes, is proposing to impose strict new rulesE-cigarettes regulation on the public use of e-cigarettes.

A bill has been introduced that would ban the use of e-cigs in public places.

I loved this response from a French spokesman for tobacco products:

The president of the French Tobacconists’ Confederation, Pascal Montredon, told the Guardian that Touraine was being unrealistic by modelling her reforms on “Anglo-saxon” countries such as Australia and Britain where the cigarette distribution network is completely different from France.

“Tobacconists are fed up with being stigmatised at a time when instead the government should be doing something about the unemployment rate,” he said. The confederation is pressing for e-cigarettes to be sold solely in tobacconist stores, but the proposed legislation fails to address this, he said.

Modeling reforms on “Anglo-Saxon” countries like Britain and Australia. Too funny. (Apparently, Australia has banned e-cig use in public according to this story).

Don’t have a strong opinion one way or another on this, other than I think it highlights that people really don’t trust e-cigs and don’t trust that the steam coming out of them is  completely benign. A few cities in the U.S. have banned e-cigs in public places, I don’t believe any states have, though I’m sure bills have been introduced.

This will be interesting to watch, because much of western Europe has imposed the same kind of strict anti-smoking measures seen in the U.S. (I have no idea how strictly they are enforced), which is a boon for the e-cig industry. Because people can’t smoke in bars anymore, now they can vape instead … except a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that nicotine-laced steam and don’t want to be around it.

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In addition, France is also set to require plain packaging on cigarettes, much as Australia has done. Again, French tobacco spokespeople are not happy:

Celine Audibert, spokeswoman for French firm Seita, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, slammed the move as “completely incomprehensible”.

“It’s based on the Australian experience which, more than a failure, was a complete fiasco,” added Audibert.

In 2012, Australia forced all cigarettes to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.

Oh, boo hoo Celine. How was it a “fiasco?” Because Imperial Tobacco’s profits declined? No matter the culture or location, tobacco weasels all speak the same language.

BTW, graphic warnings on cigarette packages was derailed on First Amendment grounds, but I found a really fascinating story about this that I will post later.

FDA will ban e-cigarette sales to minors

These 13-year-olds legally bought their e-cigs (OK, they're from the UK, but you get the point)
These 13-year-olds legally bought their e-cigs (OK, they’re from the UK, but you get the point). No more e-cig sales to minors in the U.S.

Well, this came a lot faster than I expected. I expected the announcement next week.

As fully expected, the Food and Drug Administration today announced that it intends to ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The sales ban is part of a series of e-cigarette regulations proposed by the FDA. The regulations will be finalized after a 75-day comment period, but I expect few changes.

Here is one story from NBC and here is another. Here is a CNN story.

Here’s the upshot of the new regulations.

The big one. No more e-cig sales to minors under the age of 18. This is really important. Because e-cigs have been completely unregulated, “vaping” has become more and more popular with kids, because frankly, it’s a lot less hassle for kids to get their hands on a e-cigs rather than cigarettes. According to the CDC, the percentage of kids under 18 using e-cigs double from around 5 percent in 2011 to around 10 percent in 2012. That’s alarming. I’m guessing that number is approaching 20 percent today.

While e-cigs may not be as toxic as cigarettes, they still contain nicotine, which is incredibly addictive, so c-cigs, when used by kids as a substitute for cigarettes, are addicting kids to nicotine. E-cigs might be fine for someone trying to quit smoking, but not for some 16-year-old to use instead of tobacco.

Other new regulations are no more free samples, a ban on vending machine sales in any business open to minors, a mandated disclosure of all ingredients in e-cigs and a mandated warning label that nicotine is physically addictive.

The one disappointment to me is there are no proposed restrictions on e-cigarette advertising. I think the advertising has been fairly out of control similar to what was going on with cigarettes 30 years ago. E-cigs are being made to look cool and sexy to kids, and there have even been e-cigs ads using women’s panties and Santa Claus.

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids issued  a statement with understandably mixed sentiments, taking the FDA to task for taking so long to develop these regs (three years) and urging them to address marketing to kids in the future. However, CTFK is pleased that there is a ban for sales to kids.

However, I also acknowledge that restrictions on advertising may have run into some First Amendment issues. Perhaps the FDA didn’t want to deal with the headaches of First Amendment lawsuits. The FDA CAN enforce advertising restrictions for tobacco products because the tobacco companies agreed to those restrictions in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. In that agreement, Big Tobacco agreed to not use cartoon characters (like Joe Camel … or Santa Claus, etc.) to promote its products. I honestly do not know how much power they have to restrict marketing of e-cigs.

Anyway, like I said, the big one is ending the sales of e-cigs to minors. That crap had to be cracked down on. We don’t need a new generation of nicotine addicts being created, no matter what the delivery system. The other big fear I have with e-cigs being sold to kids, and I wonder how often this has happened, is kids getting the bright idea to directly use the liquid nicotine that comes in vials along with the e-cigs. Seriously, I could just see 13- and 14-year-olds trying that. That liquid nicotine in its concentrated form is highly poisonous and powerful.

 

 

FDA to issue regulations on e-cigarettes sometime next week

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NBC News image

I feel lately like I am writing more articles on e-cigs than cigarettes lately, but most of the articles I’ve seen on tobacco-related issues have been about e-cigs during the past six months. I’d hate for the Lounge to become a site about e-cigs rather than tobacco (especially since WordPress assumed that I was advertising e-cigs on my blog.).

Anyway, hopefuly the frenzy of coverage over e-cigs will die down a bit later this year as the Food and Drug Administration will be issuing regulations over the sales and marketing of e-cigs. The FDA, which has been taking its time working on these rules, ultimately has control over e-cigs because the FDA was given control several years ago to nicotine — the main ingredient of e-cigs.

I think two issues are paramount here 1) Ban e-cig sales to minors and 2) Control e-cig advertising the same way tobacco advertising is controlled. These are the two biggest problems I see with e-cigs … that in most states, it is legal for kids to buy them and use them, and e-cig companies have been downright brazen in marketing e-cigs to kids. (And the FDA can control e-cig advertising because of the nicotine. I know it sounds like a First Amendment issue, but this issue has already been settled with tobacco products.)

Maybe e-cigs serve some purpose in helping some people quit cigarettes, but, unfortunately, “vaping” has also become hip and cool for teenagers; one of the reasons why is because kids can legally buy and use e-cigs, but it’s a bigger hassle for them to get their hands on cigarettes. That stuff needs to be cracked down on, because kids are still becoming addicted to nicotine, it’s just a different nicotine delivery system then cigarettes or chew.

Anyway, I will be waiting for the news next week when the FDA makes its announcement and hopefully comes up with some common-sense rules for these issues.

 

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach ban e-cigs indoors

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I think you’re going to see more and more of this, and I’m becoming more and more OK with it.

The cities of L.A., San Francisco and Long Beach last week all banned e-cigarette use indoors — that means mostly bars and restaurants and workplaces.

Now, e-cigs put out a vapour that has virtually no smell, and it does not irritate your eyes and nose like cigarette smoke. However, it is laced with nicotine, and people are not comfortable being in a room with nicotine-laced steam floating in the room.

It was apparently a very heated debate in L.A. as the city council heard impassioned pleas from e-cig users not to ban them.

According to the LA. Times:

“We have a right to … choose to breathe clean air,” Councilwoman Nury Martinez told her colleagues. “And if this device turns out to be safe, then we can always undo the ordinance. But if this device proves not to be safe, we cannot undo the harm this will create on the public health.”

and the other side of the argument:

Councilman Joe Buscaino led an unsuccessful attempt to exempt bars and nightclubs from the ban, a measure sought by lobbyists for the e-cigarette industry. He too invoked a family member while making his arguments.

E-cigarettes “are not tobacco,” he said. “I don’t think they should be regulated exactly the same way. And I’ve heard from so many people, including my cousin Anthony, that they’ve stopped smoking from the help of e-cigarettes.”

I guess I feel like if e-cigs have helped you quit smoking real cigarettes, then that somehow being banned from smoking them in bars or restaurants really isn’t going to change anything for you. More power to you if they’ve genuinely helped you quit smoking. You can continue not smoking cigarettes in spite of this ban.

Meanwhile, in nearby Long Beach, a similar ban was passed, and then San Francisco banned them indoors just yesterday. San Francisco is also requiring a special licence to sell e-cigs.

These major California cities join Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago as cities banning e-cigs indoors. Again, a growing trend. People are just not comfortable breathing that steam despite the lack of odour.