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.

Twenty-one state legislators from 14 states gathered in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15-17, 2014, for a CSG-led Medicaid Leadership Policy Academy. Almost 50 percent of the attendees were chairs or vice-chairs of health committees in their home states. Nearly half were health care professionals outside their legislative duties. 

The meeting was a follow-up to the Medicaid Policy Academies CSG has held in 2012, 2013, and 2014 for legislatos who have been newly elected...

For every two packs of cigarettes sold in New York, at least one has been illegally smuggled into the state. That’s according to research by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also reports that cigarette smuggling cost states an estimated $5.5 billion in lost revenue in 2012. “The significance of the problem cannot be overstated in high-tax states,” said Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center.

The Associated Press reports that companies who make well-known products marketed toward children are taking on the e-cigarette world and protecting their brand names.

Lawyers for General Mills, the Girl Scouts of the USA and Tootsie Roll Industries are among those who have issued letters demanding that names like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Thin Mint and Tootsie Roll may not be used for the liquid...

While the federal government and state legislatures are debating how much control to exercise over the new e-cigarette market, poison control centers across the nation are reporting an increase in calls related to the relatively new product. The primary source of concern is the nicotine-based liquid refill for e-cigarettes and accidental access by young children.

Nationally, poison control centers...

This week the Colorado and Utah legislatures took the first step toward passing bills to raise the smoking age to 21. Each bill passed its first committee hurdle to final adoption.

Other states with similar pending legislation this year are Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  Maryland took up the measure already but rejected it. In Utah the smoking age is already 19, as it is in Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey. Last year New York City raised the smoking age to 21 as did Hawaii...