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...

The national average of underage tobacco sales in 2012 was about 9 percent according to a U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey. Studying and targeting youth is important because most smokers start when they are young. Nearly 88 percent of smokers first started when they were younger than 18 years old and 99 percent first started smoking by age 26.

Gov. Mary Fallin said in her State of the State address delivered Feb. 4 that both her parents died due to smoking-related illnesses, as do almost 6,000 Oklahomans each year. She called for restoring local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places.

Despite the accumulation of scientific evidence and years of public education campaigns around the dangers of tobacco use, it is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States according to the CDC. One in every five deaths is related to cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke – 443,000 lives a year. The cost is staggering – reaching nearly $100 billion to treat smoking caused diseases.

The percent of adults who reported smoking in 2011 varied from a low of 11.8 percent in Utah to a high of 29 percent in Kentucky. Along with Kentucky, more than one in four  adults smoke in eight other states – Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia. Nationally, 18.1 percent of adults report smoking. Youth smoking rates are lower – 13.1 nationally – with just six states posting rates of 20 percent or higher.