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Health Department releases proposed e-cigarette regulations

September 18, 2015

Changes would prohibit vaping in public places and under 18 possession, require retail permits

TACOMA, Wash. –
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has released proposed e-cigarette regulations. Residents can share their thoughts on the possible changes to the health code at a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23 and in writing until Monday, Oct. 19.

Currently, e-cigarettes are not regulated in the same way that cigarettes are. Much about e-cigarettes and their potential for harm remains unknown, even while those under 18 are using them in record numbers. Currently one in five Pierce County 10th graders uses these products - double the number who smokes cigarettes, according to the 2014 Healthy Youth Survey.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department wants to protect youth from these products. “E-cigarettes deliver nicotine and other harmful substances. Nicotine is both addictive and toxic—that is not debatable,” said Director Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. “Despite claims of ‘safer,’ we may not know for several decades the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes,” he said.

Changes to the current local health code would prohibit vaping in public places, prohibit those under 18 from possessing e-cigarettes, and require retailers to obtain an annual permit.

Residents can choose to comment on the proposed changes in person or in writing:
  • In person—At a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 6:30-8 p.m. in the Health Department Auditorium, 3629 S. D St., Tacoma
  • In writing—In lieu of public testimony, you can provide your comments via email or regular mail by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Direct comments to Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, 3629 S. D St., Tacoma, WA, 98418, or via email at director@tpchd.org.

Summary of Proposed Changes Tacoma-Pierce County Health Code Regarding E-cigarettes

  1. Prohibit vapor products in all public places and worksites, consistent with the Washington state Smoking in Public Places law.
    Vaping (use of vapor products) will not be allowed in any public place or place of employment.
    1. This will include adult-only venues.
    2. No sampling will be allowed in retail establishments.
    3. Currently worksite restrictions are optional, it will become mandatory.
    4. The 25-foot rule will apply.
    5. Hookah Lounges that exclusively use steam stones and are currently operating legally under a Health Department settlement agreement will be exempt.
  2. Youth, under 18, will be prohibited from possessing vapor products.
    1. This is in addition to the current regulations, which prohibit the selling, providing, or furnishing of tobacco products and vapor products to youth.
  3. Require that retailers have an annual permit to sell vapor products. This will include:
    1. An annual application and renewal will be required. There will be a fee to cover the cost of operating this program. Current estimates are $330-$400 for an annual retail permit.
    2. Compliance checks will be conducted.
    3. Penalties for sales to youth will be consistent with state tobacco laws.
    4. Requirements to post signage about age restrictions.
    5. Requirements to post permit.
    6. An exemption for marijuana retailers who hold a retail license from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board and who sell electronic delivery devices.
To view the proposed resolution, summary of changes and complete text of the proposed code changes, visit www.tpchd.org/ecigarettes.

The Health Department will make all public comments available to the Board of Health, which will consider a resolution on the changes at a meeting later this year. If you have questions, please contact Tawana Bellamy at tbellamy@tpchd.org or (253) 798-2899.

Contact:
Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager
(253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text), ejeffers@tpchd.org
Frank DiBiase, Environmental Health Division Director, (253) 798-7674, fdibiase@tpchd.org
 

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