Proposed legislation in Utah is seeking to tax electronic cigarettes at the same 86 percent rate as cigars and tobacco. The state already prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
With a lack of federal regulation regarding who can smoke them, where they can be smoked and how they should be taxed, a slew of legislation has been considered at the state level in recent years. More than 35 such proposals have been introduced this year, according to a National League of State Legislatures figure cited in an AP story. Electronic cigarettes are electronic inhalers that vaporize a liquid solution usually containing nicotine into a mist that can be inhaled.
Many of the laws passed in the past couple of years have focused on prohibiting sales to minors and banning the smoking of electronic cigarettes in public. In September 2012, New York State made it illegal to smoke electronic cigarettes within 100 feet of a school entrance. The state also passed a law banning sales to minors, which went into effect at the beginning of this year. New Jersey’s law goes a step further and prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed indoor public and work places. California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Tennessee also have prohibited sales to minors.
Cities and counties have taken action as well. The King County (Wash.) Board of Health made it illegal to sell the devices to minors and prohibited smoking electronic cigarettes where smoking already is prohibited. In December, Framingham, Mass., banned selling them to minors and smoking on public property. This past year, Linn County, Ore.,approved an ordinance requiring a retail cigarette or tobacco products permit to sell electronic cigarettes.
A bill similar to Utah’s current proposal was introduced in the Hawaii legislature in 2012 that would have taxed e-cigarettes at 70 percent of their wholesale cost. Another bill was considered this year that would have banned the smoking of electronic cigarettes in most places where tobacco cigarettes are not allowed. Neither of the bills passed.