New Law Regulates E-Cigarettes

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In 2003, the first electronic cigarette was invented by Hon Lik from China. Since then, several different brands and designs have been created, most being manufactured in China, but the basic concept is the same across the board: electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine through vaporized propylene glycol.

Because nicotine delivery systems (NDS) vary by design, it is difficult to group them together in one blanket statement, but studies have found that NDS are 9-450 times less toxic than conventional cigarettes. Tobacco use is still the single largest preventable cause of death in the US. Little is known about the health effects of NDS, so they should not necessarily be used as a tobacco cessation device, though they leave less nicotine in the blood stream than cigarettes. It is also unknown what the effect of propylene glycol vapor, a food additive in ice cream and some frozen foods as well as radiator fluid for RV and marine vehicles, has on the body.

In the United States, the FDA tried to regulate the NDS, but they were repulsed on the grounds that the NDS was not marketed as a tobacco cessation device, therefore it couldn’t be regulated by the FDA. The FDA and the Surgeon General have been concerned that nicotine delivery systems popularize smoking among teens. Teens make up the majority of users of NDS. Though the FDA can’t regulate NDS, individual states can.

In the past legislative session, the Utah legislature passed HB 415, “Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes.” Among other things, the law adds electronic cigarettes to the definition of tobacco. Therefore, NDS will be regulated as tobacco products. No one under the age of 19, unless an enlisted military member of age 18 or above, can purchase NDS or cartridges. The law also requires retailers to obtain a license for distributing or selling a NDS product.

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