New Jersey Gov. Christie declined to sign a bill to raise the legal age for purchase of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes to 21 years. Christie’s pocket veto came on Jan. 19, 2016, the last day for executive action on bills adopted during the 2015 legislative session. Despite Christie's action, other states are considering similar bills to prohibit the purchase of traditional tobacco and e-cigarettes by youth under the age of 21. 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has until Jan. 19 to decide whether to sign a bill that would prohibit retail establishments from selling traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes to anyone 20 years old or younger, according to the NY Daily News. In 2006, New Jersey raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 19.

The use of electronic cigarettes—or “vaping”—has exploded in recent years among both youth and adults. In the absence of clear federal regulations, state policymakers have struggled with how best to approach the taxation and regulation of the devices. Attendees heard from state leaders, experts, law enforcement and federal representatives who will discuss how states are currently taxing e-cigarettes and restricting their sales to minors. The presenters also described what the future may hold for regulating consumption and marketing and manufacturing devices.

According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, current e-cigarette use (defined as use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) among high school students jumped from 4.5 percent (660,000) in 2013 to 13.4 percent (2 million) in 2014. Among middle schoolers, use tripled from 2013-201: from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014. Currently, at least 48 states ban the sale of e-cigarettes or alternative tobacco products to minors.

During its state budget debate in 2015, Louisiana turned to a relatively new sin tax. It joined North Carolina and Minnesota and added taxes on e-cigarettes to its revenue sources. Legislators from Louisiana, North Carolina and Minnesota will join a panel discussion on taxation and regulation of e-cigarettes during a policy workshop from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 12, at the CSG 2015 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. An official from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will address proposed federal regulations on e-cigarettes. The FDA is using its statutory “deeming” authority to issue regulations on products that it determines fall under the legal definition of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco and novel products such as nicotine gels and dissolvable tobacco

As classes resume across the country this fall, the University of Iowa will join nearly 1,100 colleges and universities that have declared their campuses tobacco free. The new policy adds smokeless tobacco, snuff, water pipes and electronic cigarettes—or e-cigarettes—to their list of banned substances on campus, joining cigarette and cigar smoke under the school’s previous policy.

CSG South

In recent years, the United States has seen a growing popularity with the use of electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-operated single-use or reusable devices with interchangeable cartridges that use a type of heating element to turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor inhaled by its user. The cartridges come in a variety of colors and flavors, like apple pie, cotton candy, mint chocolate, and tutti frutti, just to name a few. It is suggested that the array of flavors, combined with the relative ease of purchasing e-cigarettes and its components at mall kiosks and online, has made e-cigarettes particularly popular among youth.

This Regional Resource from The Council of State Governments’ Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), examines the regulations proposed by the FDA and the actions taken by 14 of the 15 SLC member states with regard to e-cigarettes through the 2014 legislative session.

According to just-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 2 million high school students and almost half a million middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2014. E-cigarettes have taken over as the most commonly used tobacco product among high school and middle school students. Youth use of traditional cigarettes continues to decline – only 9.2 percent of high school students reported smoking cigarettes in 2014 compared to 16 percent in 2011.  

States face a conundrum as they struggle to regulate and tax e-cigarettes and other vapor systems that deliver nicotine to their users. Definitions in current tobacco and smoking laws can be amended to apply; however the evidence-base to establish equivalency to tobacco has not yet been established. Only three states have totally prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in public places, but 41 states prohibit the purchase of e-cigarettes to minors. Just two states have established taxes on these new products.

E-cigarettes are a nicotine delivery system. They heat liquid containing nicotine and flavorings into a vapor by passing it over a small electronic battery. According to The Wall Street Journal, sales grew from $2 million in 2009 to $722 million in 2013.

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