Utah E-cig regulator worries about 'liquid marijuana'

Wednesday , August 13, 2014 - 9:48 AM

Standard-Examiner staff

CLEARFIELD — Davis County health officials plan to relax e-cigarette regulations due to changes in the industry.

The evolving electronic cigarette and e-juice industry has prompted county health staff members to recommend amendments that will loosen regulations on labeling and packaging standards for the products, officials said.

The Davis Health Board on Tuesday agreed to host a public hearing for retailers and manufacturers. A hearing date has yet to be set, but the hearing will be held between now and the health board’s Nov. 25 meeting. The board has selected Dr. Gary Alexander to serve as the hearing officer.

Davis Health, which has led the charge for Utah when it comes to regulating the electronic cigarette industry, currently requires a warning label that says the e-juice product is to be kept away from children and pets, Director Lewis R. Garrett said. But the labeling practices of out-of-state e-juice manufacturers do not include the word “pets” in the warning label on the e-juice containers, Garrett said.

The industry also wants the county to drop its requirement of a tamper-proof plastic seal on the e-juice containers, something out-of-state manufacturers of the e-juice are not required to include, Garrett said. 

But board chairman Don Wood said he would have concerns removing that regulation from the county’s requirement. The plastic seal prevents the product from being tampered with during its manufacturing, storage and shipping process, Wood told the board.

Bountiful Mayor Randy Lewis, the newest health board member, said he, too, is concerned with removing the plastic seal requirement. With the direction the electronic cigarette industry is heading with its product line -- with the possibility of it someday introducing “liquid marijuana” -- the health department needs to continue to closely regulate the industry, he said.

The mayor says he also favors the idea of having convenience stores selling the product be put under the same regulations as the specialty shops.

“I prefer to keep the childproof caps (in the regulation),” Garrett said. But requiring the tamper-proof seals could drive up costs for local retailers, he said, “putting the health department in an adversarial role with retailers.”

Other amendments requested include changing the language in how the nicotine content reads on the e-juice product; eliminating the need for retailers to provide the consumer a conversion table as to how much nicotine the product contains; and specialty shops no longer having to place e-juice containers under the counter, because anyone entering the shop is required to be 19 or older.

Health staff is also wanting to add the term “walls” to its current regulations, as it relates to the specialty shops’ cleaning practices where they manufacture the product. Current health regulations say the ceilings and floors where specialty shop operators prepare their product are to be of a “smooth, nonabsorbent and easily cleanable“ surface. Staff wants to add the term ”walls“ to that language, a term that was mistakenly omitted from the original regulations adopted.

The health board adopted the electronic smoking device regulations on Feb. 11.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.

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