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New Year: No vaping in public places

December 15, 2015

New E-cigarette, vaping limitations go into effect Jan. 1; retail permits required March 30

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department enhances its e-cigarette regulation to prevent youth use and protect the public from second hand exposure. Brings e-cigarette limits in line with 10-year-old Smoking in Public Places law.

TACOMA, Wash. –
Beginning Jan. 1, it will be illegal for people to use e-cigarettes or to vape in any public place or place of employment, consistent with the Washington state Smoking in Public Places law. Also, youth possession of vapor products becomes illegal, and child-resistant packaging will be required for retailers who sell e-juice. By March 30, retailers must have permits to sell e-cigarettes and vapor products.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has published fact sheets for the public and for e-cigarette retailers with more information. Access them at In general, here’s what the new regulations mean:

For the public

  • Vaping will not be allowed in any public place or place of employment.
  • It is now illegal for youth to use or possess vapor products.
  • If you use vapor products, you may see changes at the locations where you purchase those products.
For retailers
  • Decide if you will apply for a permit with or without sampling, then prepare accordingly.
  • Follow new signage requirements for all retailers.
    • The Health Department will issue the required signage when retailers receive their permit.
  • For retailers who plan to allow sampling, new ventilation standards and other requirements exist.
Board of Health passed new regulations Nov. 18
The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health unanimously approved the new e-cigarettes and vaping regulations on Nov. 18 meeting. The intent of the new regulations is to stem the tide of usage among youth under 18 and to protect the public from second hand vapor exposure. The new regulations bring the e-cigarette use in line with the state Smoking in Public in Places law, which has been in effect for 10 years.

Before voting, the five-member Board listened to 37 people during more than an hour of public testimony—both for and against the regulations. In addition, the Board received more than 700 pages of email and public comment transcripts from the six-month long public process.

In 2011, the local Board of Health passed regulations to prohibit e-cigarette sales to youth and prohibited their use in public places, except in adult only venues. The regulations did not prohibit youth from possessing e-cigarettes and provided some exceptions for use of e-cigarettes in public places.

Extensive Public Input on Regulations
The Health Department conducted an extensive public input process on the proposed regulations. Staff took comments on the proposed regulations at a Sept. 23 public meeting and via email and mail until Oct. 19. In addition, since July, the Department has gathered extensive input on the proposed regulations through surveys, meetings and online forums with parents, vape shop owners and vapers, community organizations, community leaders, business owners, school district representatives, law enforcement, State of Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, and others.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department joins local health jurisdictions in Clark, Grant, King and Snohomish counties in regulating e-cigarette use in public places. Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health decided to enhance its existing e-cigarette regulations after the state legislature failed to pass legislation on the issue during the last session, which ended July 2015.

Worldwide, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death. In the United States, the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes and vapor products may pose health threats and create a new generation of addicts. Locally, one in five Pierce County 10th graders uses these products—double the number who smoke cigarettes.

View complete regulations, permits and fees, and the administrative record of public testimony and written comments, surveys, Board of Health presentations and handouts, and more at

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager
(253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text),
Steve Metcalf, Communications Specialist
(253) 798-6540, (253) 345-8238, (cell/text),

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