Some States Consider Laws to Regulate E-Cigarettes

Laws regulating e-cigarettes are under consideration in a growing number of states, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Legislators in some states, including New York and Arizona, have introduced measures that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.  In Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Utah, bills would extend smoking bans in public areas to include e-cigarettes. Other states are considering bills that would require special taxes on the devices, or halt Internet sales.

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. They usually have a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge with nicotine or other chemicals and a device called an atomizer that converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor when heated. E-cigarettes often are made to look like regular cigarettes.

Annual sales of e-cigarettes have grown to between $250 million and $500 million in the United States, according to the newspaper. That is still a small percentage of the estimated $100 billion U.S. tobacco market.

Public health groups say not enough is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes. They are also concerned e-cigarettes, which come in flavors such as cherry, chocolate and piña colada, are attractive to youth.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last April that it would regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, treating them the same as traditional cigarettes. The FDA said it would not try to regulate e-cigarettes under stricter rules for drug-delivery devices. In 2010, the FDA lost a court case after it tried to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, which must satisfy stricter requirements than tobacco products, including clinical trials to prove they are safe and effective.