State Legislature Passes Bill To Regulate E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes will be subject to the same regulations as tobacco if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that cleared the state Assembly Thursday.

The legislation defines e-cigarettes as tobacco products, prohibits their sale to minors and requires people who use them to follow the same smoke-free laws that pertain to regular cigarettes. That means vaping would be prohibited from indoor public spaces such as restaurants, buses and daycare centers.

The bill also requires child-resistant packaging for vaping products.

The state Senate approved the legislation last year, and it will need to ratify any changes made by the Assembly before the bill can head to the governor’s desk. But that is generally considered a formality.

Gov. Brown is expected to sign the bill.

The vaping legislation is one of six anti-tobacco bills in the current special legislative session on health, including a proposal to raise the age limit for tobacco to 21. If that bill and the vaping legislation are both signed into law, e-cigarettes would be subject to the same age limit.

It is widely accepted that smoking tobacco imposes steep costs on the economy, in extra health care spending and lost hours of sick workers. Vaping — often marketed to young people – has been widely promoted as a healthier alternative to tobacco, but some recent studies have raised serious questions about that assumption.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who authored the vaping bill, said today’s approval deals “a major setback” to the tobacco industry’s “assault on youth and taxpayers.”

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Capitol Desk Public Health