New Rules and Regulations on Smoking E-Cigarettes

What are some of the new rules and regulations affecting e-cigarette users?

Electronic Cigarettes and Workplaces

Employers with a no-smoking policy can modify their existing policy to include e-cigarettes or choose to implement a separate ban on e-cigarettes. The Air Force has banned e-cigarettes on base by adding it to their ban on tobacco products. The Navy has banned e-cigarettes from use on submarines in addition to their prior ban on cigarettes. The Department of Transportation has already prohibited e cigarettes on plane and other enclosed transportation modes, but it has not yet issued an official ban. Companies can choose to discriminate against smokers and refuse to hire them. And because the FDA has not approved electronic cigarettes as smoking cessation devices, e-cigarette users are still classified as smokers. This means that a company that will not hire smokers can refuse to hire you even if you use an e-cigarette device instead. Furthermore, under the Affordable Care Act or ACA, employers can charge e cigarette smokers more for health insurance because they consume nicotine like smokers, though they face far lower cancer risks than smokers.

Laws Limiting Sales and Marketing of E-Cigarettes

Legal analysis of the Michigan Smoke-Free Air law of 2010 found that e-cigarettes do not fall under the law because they are essentially smokeless. However, Michigan law gives businesses the right to prohibit ecigarettes on their premises.

New York passed a law that went into effect at the start of 2013 prohibiting the sale of e cigarettes to minors. New York law at this time now states that you must be at least eighteen years old to buy e-cigarettes and that retailers must ask for identification to verify the buyer’s age.
As of July 1, 2012, pharmacies in the Tri-Town area in Massachusetts are not allowed to sell e-cigarettes. California had already forbidden the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but expanded its law to let cities require retailers to get a license before they are allowed to sell e-cigarettes.

Laws Limiting the Use of E-Cigarettes

Smoking bans have been in existence across the United States for years, though they’ve traditionally only applied to cigarettes and cigars. Alternative forms of smoking like hookahs, ecigarettes and herbal cigarettes are starting to face bans across the country.

A New York law signing in 2012 made it illegal as of January 1, 2013 to smoke e cigs within a hundred feet of public building entrances or schools. This move applies the same restrictions on smoking to e-cigarettes as apply to traditional cigarettes.

Many cities with public smoking bans are adding e-cigarettes to their smoking ban. The Tri-Town area in Massachusetts modified its smoking ban to include e-cigarettes among the items that could not be smoked in schools and restaurants. King County in Washington added e-cigarettes to its smoking ban.

Petaluma, California added both medical marijuana and ecigs to its smoking ban. The Petaluma city-wide smoking ban includes public spaces like sidewalks, outdoor patios at restaurants and shared housing units like apartments. Riverside County in California banned use of e-cigarettes in all county owned buildings in 2012.

Salt Lake City in Utah has been expanded to include e-cigarettes, though opponents say that they do not violate the Utah Clean Indoor Air Act.

Many colleges like the University of Texas at Arlington are classified as tobacco free. This designation prohibits chewing tobacco, traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes from the college grounds. More colleges are becoming tobacco free, regardless of the smoking regulations of the surrounding town.

To complicate matters, there are proposed laws across the country to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes, potentially making them illegal in venues where they are legal today. Know the law before you light up in public to avoid getting a ticket.

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