Policy Analysis | May 2019

Vaping and Electronic Cigarette Legislation (2019)

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Electronic cigarette usage has surged in recent years, with increased rates among youth and young adults posing a particularly worrisome challenge for public health officials. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.9 million middle and high school students were users of tobacco products in 2018, an increase of 1.3 million from 2017. The increase – driven mostly by the growth of electronic cigarettes – impedes successful efforts by states in recent years to reduce youth tobacco usage. More than a quarter of high school students and about 7 percent of middle school students reported using tobacco products in 2018, with electronic cigarettes the most common among both demographics. Electronic cigarettes have benefits for adults using them as complete substitutes for regular cigarettes; however, the CDC and U.S. Surgeon General both warn they should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women and adults who do not smoke. U.S. health agencies acknowledge that further studies are needed to understand the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes.1

In an effort to address concerns surrounding the rising popularity of vaping and electronic cigarette products among youth and young adults, many states across the South introduced and, in several cases, enacted related legislation in 2019. The legislation generally focuses on three areas:

  1. Raising the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using traditional tobacco and electronic cigarette products;
  2. Banning electronic cigarette products at schools and school-sponsored events, indoors and other public spaces; and
  3. Taxing electronic cigarette products.

Proposals to raise the minimum age to 21 years and older to purchase tobacco and electronic cigarette products have been the most common approach taken by SLC states in 2019, with eight of the 15 states considering or enacting such legislation. By comparison, three states enacted indoor or school bans on tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, and only one considered a tax on electronic cigarette products.  

Currently, three states in the South tax electronic cigarette products, measured by the amount of consumable nicotine liquid solution or other materials containing nicotine that are used in a vaping product. These states are Louisiana ($0.05 per milliliter), North Carolina ($0.05 per milliliter) and West Virginia (0.075 per milliliter).2

2019 Legislation (Bill status is current as of May 2, 2019)

Minimum Age Requirements
State Bill Status Description
Arkansas House Bill 1519 Failed Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using tobacco products, alternative nicotine products and vaping products, with exceptions made for military personnel 18 years and older.
Florida House Bill 7119 Pending Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using tobacco products, nicotine products and nicotine dispensing devices, with exceptions made for military personnel 18 years and older. 
Kentucky Senate Bill 249 Failed Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using tobacco products, alternative nicotine products and vaping products.
Louisiana House Bill 38 Pending Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using tobacco products, alternative nicotine products and vaping products.
South Carolina House Bill 3420 Enacted Prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from entering shops primarily selling tobacco products and/or alternative nicotine products, and bans anyone under 18 from purchasing such products online.
South Carolina House Bill 3932 Pending Proposes a constitutional amendment, upon approval by voters, to raise the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using tobacco products, cigarettes and alternative nicotine products.
Texas Senate Bill 21 Pending Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using electronic cigarettes, cigarettes and tobacco products, with exceptions made for military personnel 18 years and older. 
Virginia House Bill 2748 Enacted Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using tobacco products, vaping products and alternative nicotine products, with exceptions made for military personnel 18 years and older.
West Virginia Senate Bill 348 Failed Raises the minimum age to 21 years and older for purchasing and using electronic cigarettes or similar devices, alternative nicotine products, heated tobacco products and vaping products, with exceptions made for military personnel 18 years and older.
Indoor/School Bans
State Bill Status Description
Florida Senate Bill 7012 Enacted Bans vaping in most indoor areas, with exceptions made for tobacco shops, retail vaping shops, bars and other designated smoking areas. The bill follows a voter-approved constitutional amendment in November 2018.
Kentucky House Bill 11 Enacted Bans tobacco products, alternative nicotine products and vaping products on all property that is owned, operated, leased or contracted for use by a local board of education and at all school-related functions.
Oklahoma Senate Bill 33 Enacted Bans tobacco products and vaping products at K-12 schools and other facilities with early childhood education programs, and prohibits their usage at all school-sponsored events.
Oklahoma Senate Bill 290 Pending Bans vaping in most indoors areas, with exceptions made for bars, tobacco shops, retail vaping shops, outdoor seating areas of restaurants that are at least 15 feet from the nearest entrance/exit, and up to 25 percent of guest rooms at hotels of other lodging establishments.

Electronic Cigarette Taxation
State Bill Status Description
Kentucky House Bill 383 Failed Taxes vaping products at the rate of $0.04 per milliliter.

Refererences

1 “Progress Erased: Youth Tobacco Use Increased During 2017-2018,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed April 26, 2019,
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0211-youth-tobacco-use-increased.html
.

2 “U.S. E-Cigarette Regulations – 50 State Review (2019),” Public Health Law Center, accessed April 26, 2019,
https://publichealthlawcenter.org/resources/us-e-cigarette-regulations-50-state-review.