United States of Vaping

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e-cigarette vape laws

E-Cigarette Laws in the States
Electronic Cigarettes or e-cigarettes have grown in popularity due to their reputation for being potentially healthier than regular cigarettes as well as having fewer regulations than cigarettes across the U.S. However, because there are no federal regulations for e-cigarettes many states have begun imposing their own regulations. Specific regulations state by state can be found at the Public Health Law Center.

Technically, people can smoke e-cigarettes anywhere and not cause a problem.  They are odorless and non-combustible.  They emit vapor instead of smoke.  This means the threat of secondhand smoke has been eliminated by e-cigs.  This raises the question of why many states have passed laws banning e-cigs in many public places.

Many of the e-cigarette bans are as a result of concerns that e-cigarettes will re-normalize smoking.  Therefore, e-cigs are beginning to be banned in public places such as restaurants and shops in many places across the United States. The logic is if people are seen smoking e-cigarettes, kids may be more likely to pick up smoking regular cigarettes. So far, the research on this connection has drawn insignificant connections between e-cigs and smoking cigarettes.

Many places nation-wide that are often considered completely non-smoking areas, have now also banned e-cigs. For example, urban areas such as Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles have banned using e-cigs in offices, public parks, sports facilities and restaurants. Philadelphia actually goes as far as to treat e-cigarettes as regular cigarettes.

Some state laws are much more far reaching. In New Hampshire, Arkansas, e-cigs are not permitted on school grounds. In other states, the state government has made new rules that classify e-cigs as tobacco products.

Depending on the state, here are some other places that you cannot smoke e-cigarettes:

  • Commuter trains
  • Department of health properties
  • Government buildings
  • Corrections facilities and vehicles
  • Casinos
  • Ball parks

Many states have no state regulations on restricting e-cig use and therefore the townships have the power to decide how they want to regulate e-cigs. There are 37 states that do not have any statewide regulations.  Some states have exceptions to their rules on e-cig use when it comes to vape shops. In many places, people can use their e-cigarettes in vape shops, even though it is a business building.

There are some interesting exceptions to e-cig bans:

  • In Chicago you can smoke your e-cig at a theatre performance.  However, the definition of the word “theatre performance” is a bit vague. Therefore, it is always good to check the facility rules.
  • Coconino County, Arizona has banned e-cigs in “unincorporated” and less traffic areas, but the definition of “unincorporated,” is unclear.
  • In Utah, you can vape in e-cig stores until July 1st, 2017

E-cigarette bans are bound to increase across the country. Because e-cigs are new, many state governments are struggling to figure out how to treat them. The easy thing is to treat them like regular cigarettes, despite the fact that they are not a fire hazard and do not pose the threat of secondhand smoke. Eventually federal regulations will be put in place, but until then, the regulations state by state will be so varied that you should look up your specific state regulations before using your e-cigarette in public spaces.

Last update: Jan 12, 2017