Electronic cigarettes, battery operated devices that use vapors from a nicotine solution instead of tobacco, face no regulations. They can be sold to minors. They can be offered as free samples. Anyone can make any claim about how safe they are without repercussions.
Soon, though, that may change.
The United States Food and Drug Administration released 67 pages of proposed regulations for e cigarettes last week and now faces a public comment period before any regulations are approved.
The regulations will begin treating the devices as if they were tobacco products That means no sales to minors, no free samples and no claims about health without a scientific study cited.
The Florida Department of Health s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida called the proposal long overdue.
In a statement, the bureau asked whether smokers were using e cigarettes to quit or to circumvent smoke free indoor air laws and whether e cigarettes were normalizing smoking and nicotine use for teenagers.
Every responsible vape e cigarette shop in this industry has always had a policy of no sales to minors, even prior to any word of legislation, said Ben Hughlett, who owns two New Leaf Vapor Company stores in Riverside and on Beach Boulevard. We see this as a product that adults should have the right to enjoy responsibly, and that part of the responsibility means keeping it away from kids.
Hughlett, who is opening three stores later this year, has a sign in his shop that says We do not sell to minors. Although it isn t regulated yet, we believe it to be good practice.
Clay County was the first in the state s 67 counties to pass an ordinance to ban sales to minors and ban the use of e cigarettes in any place where smoking isn t allowed. The ordinance also limited how stores could display and sell the products.
Though Duval County doesn t have a similar ordinance, a bill regulating e cigarettes passed the Florida Senate and then was amended and passed in the Florida House of Representatives. If the Senate passes the amended version of the bill and the governor signs it, e cigarettes could be regulated in Florida even before the federal drug administration finalizes its regulations.
The bill makes it a misdemeanor crime to give nicotine products, including e cigarettes, to minors.
It does not, though, ban stores from giving free samples like the Food and Drug Administration proposes.
Sampling, Hughlett said, allows people to try different flavors before they buy, and find ones that will work for them. It s part of the vaping experience that customers really enjoy, and something that has helped make it possible for so many smokers to put down traditional cigarettes.
Ronald Coleman, 57, said he s smoked for at least 37 years. He never tried to quit, and he only tried e cigarettes because he wanted to be able to smoke inside and outside. He tried e cigarettes for two weeks and said normal cigarettes didn t feel right anymore.
He said he s fine with banning sales to minors, and he s fine with getting rid of signs like the one in New Leaf s Riverside store that says E cigs are about 1% of the harm caused from smoking analogs.
Everything, he said, comes with a downside. But at least the ashes are gone, the scent is gone and the cost is much cheaper.
Coleman said he can breathe better and he s gained weight since switching to e cigarettes,
Tobacco Free Florida told smokers they ought to wait for reliable scientific evidence before trusting that e cigarettes were indeed safer.
Randy Nobles, 27, has been using e cigarettes for two years, after smoking a pack and a half of Newport cigarettes a day for seven years. He said the cost of using e cigarettes is 20 times cheaper, but he said the proposed regulations are all reasonable.
What the government tells you to do, Nobles said, you have to do.
Andrew Pantazi (904) 359 4310
Usage of electronic cigarettes triples over the past two years – wales online
Usage of electronic cigarettes has tripled over the past two years, with more than two million adults now regularly smoking them, research has revealed.
Figures released by health charity ASH show that the number of adults in Britain using the devices has risen from an estimated 700,000 in 2012 to 2.1 million this year.
Nearly two thirds of users said they also smoked regular cigarettes, with the other third being ex smokers, an increase in the proportion of former smokers compared to previous years.
Just 1% of those asked who never smoked said they had tried electronic cigarettes.
The YouGov survey found that more than half of ex smokers (51.7%) say that they have tried electronic cigarettes, compared with just 8.2% in 2010.
It showed there has been a consistent rise in the number of current or former smokers who use electronic cigarettes on a regular basis up from 2.7% in 2010 to 17.7% this year.
Just over a third (35%) of British adults believe that electronic cigarettes are good for public health while just under a quarter (22%) disagree, the survey said.
The research comes after a Welsh Government proposal was put forward earlier this month to make Wales the first nation in the UK to introduce a ban on e cigarettes in public places.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he believed the growing use of the products has normalised smoking and undermines the enforcement of the smoking ban, which was introduced in Wales seven years ago.
The main reason given by ex smokers for using electronic cigarettes were to help me stop smoking entirely (71%) and to help me keep off tobacco (48%).
And the biggest reason for current smokers was to help me reduce the amount of tobacco I smoke, but not stop completely (48%) followed by to save money compared with smoking tobacco (37%) and to help me stop smoking entirely (36%).
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash said The dramatic rise in use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Significantly, usage among non smokers remains negligible.
While it is important to control the advertising of electronic cigarettes to make sure children and non smokers are not being targeted, there is no evidence from our research that e cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.
The YouGov survey questioned 12,269 adults online last month.
A separate ongoing survey the Smoking Toolkit Study carried out in England has also found that smokers are increasingly using electronic cigarettes as an aid to quitting, overtaking use of medicinal nicotine products such as patches and gum.
The proportion of smokers who have quit in the last year has increased and smoking rates in England are continuing to fall.
Professor Robert West, who led the study, said Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks renormalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this view.
On the contrary, electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking as more people use them as an aid to quitting.
Charles Hamshaw Thomas, legal and corporate affairs director of e cigarette company E Lites, said Study after study is showing that scaremongering that e cigarettes are luring people into tobacco is baseless nonsense. The reverse is going on smokers are switching into e cigarettes as the way to reduce the harm from tobacco.
As a result tobacco sales are falling in the UK.