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The importance of product definitions in US e-cigarette laws and regulations
  1. Lauren K Lempert1,
  2. Rachel Grana1,
  3. Stanton A Glantz1,2,3
  1. 1Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  3. 3Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stanton A Glantz, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco, 530 Parnassus Avenue, Suite 366, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; glantz{at}medicine.ucsf.edu

Abstract

Background How electronic cigarettes and similar products (e-cigarettes) are defined affects how they are regulated, particularly whether existing laws for cigarettes apply, including sales and marketing, youth access, smoke-free and taxation laws.

Methods We examined the text of 46 bills that define e-cigarettes enacted in 40 states and characterised how e-cigarettes and similar products were defined.

Results States enact laws creating new product categories for e-cigarettes separate from the ‘tobacco product’ category (eg, ‘alternative nicotine product,’ ‘vapour product,’ ‘electronic nicotine device’), with four states explicitly excluding e-cigarettes from ‘tobacco products.’ Twenty-eight states do not include e-cigarettes in their definitions of ‘tobacco products’ or ‘smoking,’ eight include e-cigarettes as ‘tobacco products,’ three include e-cigarettes in ‘smoking.’ Sixteen states’ definitions of e-cigarettes require nicotine, and five states pre-empt more stringent local laws. Tobacco and e-cigarette industry representatives tried to shape laws that benefit their interests.

Conclusions Definitions separating e-cigarettes from other tobacco products are common. Similar to past ‘Trojan horse’ policies, e-cigarette policies that initially appear to restrict sales (eg, limit youth access) may actually undermine regulation if they establish local pre-emption or create definitions that divide e-cigarettes from other tobacco products. Comparable issues are raised by the European Union Tobacco Products Directive and e-cigarette regulations in other countries. Policymakers should carefully draft legislation with definitions of e-cigarettes that broadly define the products, do not require nicotine or tobacco, do not pre-empt stronger regulations and explicitly include e-cigarettes in smoke-free and taxation laws.

  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Public policy
  • Taxation
  • Tobacco industry
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