E-cigarette use among young people has been increasing at an alarming rate across the US and in Arizona.  In fact, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students has grown by 900% among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2015. 

That’s not a typo.  It’s 900%.  Even the FDA has stated that e-cigarette use among young people has “hit epidemic proportions.” The latest 2019 findings from the National Youth Tobacco Surveyindicate that over 5 million middle- and high-school-aged youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2019.

Last year’s Arizona Youth Survey found that e-cig use was up dramatically across all three age groups:

  • 8th -graders: 21% reported using e-cigarettes in 2016- that’s up to 28% now

  • 10th-graders: 29.4% 2016, now it’s 39%

  • 12th-graders: 35% 2016, now it’s nearly half- at 46%.

Regulating the sale of flavored e-cigarettes is an important strategy to reduce youth e-cigarette use and the nicotine addiction that comes with their use.  According to FDA, 96% of youth who started using e-cigarettes started with a flavored product.

During last year’s legislative session, Senator Heather Carter proposed HB 2357 which would have done several good things including classifying vaping products in the same category as tobacco, including vaping products in the Smoke Free Arizona Act, and explicitly allowing cities and towns to impose their own stricter regulations (including having a 21 year old buy age).   Sadly, that bill didn’t pass.

Senator Carter also proposed SB 1363 last session, which would have moved the tobacco and e-cigarette buy age to 21.  Sadly, that bill never even received a hearing.

So far, our Governor doesn’t appear to be supportive of banning the sale of flavored e-cigs in AZ.  He’s quoted in this article in the Arizona Capitol Times as saying “What I don’t want to do is take someone who is addicted (to nicotine), restrict them from finding a product and push them to the black market, so we’re going to have a measured approach.”

The FDA has been sending mixed signals whether they intend to use their authority to better regulate or eliminate the sale of flavored e-cigarettes- but several states are taking clear action. 

Here’s a quick summary of what other states have been doing. 

Massachusetts has a bill named  H 4196 which would prohibit the sale, marketing, or advertisement of any flavored tobacco product or flavor enhancer in any retail establishment, online, or through other means to any consumer in the commonwealth, except if sold by a smoking bar. The bill passed the legislature and was sent to the governor for his signature.

Massachusetts has another proposed bill called (H 3778) that would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products (including e-cigs)m in locations accessible to minors.

California is considering companion bills (AB 739 and SB 38) that would prohibit tobacco retailers from selling flavored tobacco products.

Illinois has companion bills (HB 3883 and SB 2275) that would prohibit establishments from selling or distributing any flavored tobacco products. Other Illinois bills are include (SB 2274 and HB 3887) which would prohibit tobacco retailers from selling flavored tobacco products and  solutions or substances intended for use with e-cigarettes.

A proposed bill in New York (S 6809) would prohibit the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products and accessories.

DC proposed a bill (B23-0453) that would prevent the sale or distribution of flavored electronic smoking devices.

The Ohio legislature is considering a bill (HB 346) prohibiting manufacturers, producers, distributors, wholesalers, or retailers of cigarettes, other tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or papers used to roll cigarettes from selling or giving away flavored electronic smoking devices or flavored vapor products that have not received approval from the FDA.

A proposed bill in Washington (HB 1932) would restrict a retailer or distributor from selling flavored vapor products.

The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill (HB 1994) that would make it a criminal offense to sell, furnish, purchase for resale, manufacture, advertise, or market flavored vapor products. In addition, the bill would restrict the placement of vending machines containing flavored vapor products in locations accessible to purchasers.