The Utah State Legislature is considering two Bills both of which target the electronic cigarette. These Bills will not both be passed in their current form as they contradict each other, however if either gets passed they will effect adult access to electronic cigarettes in Utah.
The first Bill, H.B. 88 – ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE RESTRICTIONS bans the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. We agree with this portion of the legislation. However it goes on to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine over the internet. The obvious assumption here is that it is easier for minors to purchase e-cigarettes on the internet. And although this may seem to be rational, consider this:
1) Reputable online retailers of electronic cigarettes collect and store customer information including name, address, and date of birth.
2) Reputable online retailers of electronic cigarettes make consumers take action to verify they are of legal smoking age.
3) Reputable online retailers of electronic cigarettes almost exclusively take credit cards as payment and have the card information verified.
4) Reputable online retailers of electronic cigarettes require a signature to accept delivery of sold products.
5) Electronic cigarette kits have a much higher price tag than a pack of cigarettes. Minors are much more price sensitive as a general rule.
Now consider this; for decades kids have found ways to get tobacco cigarettes. Stealing from parents, having an older friend buy them, having a fake ID, or not getting ID’d at all are pretty common ways for minors to get cigarettes. Compare this to stealing a credit card, having all the associated credit card information, falsely entering stored personal information onto a website, and taking and signing for a delivery without parents finding out. Which sounds more likely to happen?
Limiting access for adult smokers to a non-combustible nicotine product does not protect kids.
The second potential Bill, H.B. 71 – NICOTINE PRODUCT RESTRICTIONS bans all nicotine products in Utah that are not cigarettes, cigars, products that contain actual tobacco or nicotine products approved by the FDA. So, it bans the sale of electronic cigarettes and potentially other nicotine products that aren’t yet classified and don’t actually contain tobacco. The issue here is that there is currently a lawsuit pending against the FDA to determine the classification of the electronic cigarette. Once this is settled, it is likely the electronic cigarette will be included in sellable nicotine products in Utah. However until it is settled, Utah would be denying adult smokers access to electronic cigarettes, which have not been proven to cause any harm, while allowing the sale of tobacco cigarettes, which cause substantial harm to the user.
We believe H.B. 71 is premature and encourage the Utah State Legislature to postpone any law banning the electronic cigarette until such time as it is categorized. Passing a law denying minors access to nicotine products is responsible. Passing a law denying adults smokers alternatives to their deadly tobacco cigarettes is counter productive to public health and common sense.
We encourage all Utah residents who use an electronic cigarette, or believe in the freedom to choose an alternative to a known killer, contact their state representative and the Governor, Gary R. Herbert, to let them know that these two Bills are counterproductive to public health. Let them know about your experience with the electronic cigarette or how smoking tobacco has effected your family.
We recommend an email and if possible a certified letter addressing your concerns over your State limiting your access to electronic cigarettes and other alternatives to tobacco cigarettes.