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New Law Regulates E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products


April 20, 2016 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Licensing and Regulation

New Law Regulates E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products

The Legislature adopted new legislation (ESSB 6328) this session to regulate the e-cigarette and vapor product industry in Washington, and I think that these new legal requirements may be of particular interest to local governments across the state. A vapor product is “any noncombustible product that may contain nicotine and that employs a heating element, power source, [or] electronic circuit . . . that can be used to produce vapor from a solution or other substance.” The term includes electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and pipes, as well as vapor cartridges or other containers that may contain nicotine to be used in an electronic cigarette or similar device.

Some key provisions of the new law include:

New Regulations on Sale, Use, and Distribution

  • The use of vapor products is prohibited in childcare facilities, schools, elevators, and associated outdoor areas, with a few exceptions.

  • It will be a class 3 civil infraction for a person under the age of 18 to purchase or attempt to purchase, possess, or obtain vapor products. If there is a question regarding the age of a purchaser, the person must provide an official form of photo identification.

  • It is a gross misdemeanor to sell or give a vapor product, or permit one to be sold or given, to a person under the age of 18.

  • Vapor product retailers may not sell products containing cannabinoid, synthetic cannabinoid, cathinone, or methcathinone.

  • A retail store may not sell or distribute vapor products unless the customer has no direct access to the product except through the assistance of the seller. Vapor products may not be sold through a self-service display. These restrictions do not apply if minors are not allowed in the store.

  • Vapor products may not be mailed, shipped, or delivered unless the seller verifies that the customer is 18 years or older prior to the sale.

  • Retailers must display a clearly visible sign concerning the prohibition of vapor product sales to minors. Signs will be provided free of charge by the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

New Labeling and Packaging Requirements

  • Vapor products must be labeled with a warning that will provide notice of the harmful effects of nicotine, indicate that the product must be kept away from children, indicate that vaping by anyone under the age of 18 is illegal, and list the amount of milligrams per milliliter of nicotine in the product. Similar warnings are required for manufacturers or retailers who advertise vapor products.

  • Liquid nicotine containers sold in Washington must satisfy child-resistant effectiveness standards established under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970.

New Licensing Requirements

  • Vapor product retailers must obtain a license from the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

  • The Liquor and Cannabis Board may impose penalties and sanctions against licensees to enforce this new law.

  • Political subdivisions are preempted from adopting or enforcing licensing requirements and regulations of vapor product promotions and retail sales.

  • Motor carriers, freight forwarders, and air carriers are exempted from the vapor product provisions of the legislation.

  • Fees and penalties collected under the regulations go to the Youth Tobacco and Vapor Products Prevention Account, except that ten percent of the fees and penalties go to the state general fund.

Licensing requirements go into effect thirty days after the Liquor and Cannabis Board prescribes a form for license applications. The other provisions of the act go into effect June 9, 2016.

Have a question or comment about this information? Let me know below or contact me directly at psullivan@mrsc.org.

Image courtesy of Ecig Click.

About Paul Sullivan

Paul has worked with local governments since 1974 and has authored MRSC publications on local elections, ordinances, and general local government operation. He also provides training on the Open Public Meetings Act.

VIEW ALL POSTS BY Paul Sullivan

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