Davis blazes trail with Utah's first e-cigarette regulations

Feb 8 2014 - 9:21am

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CLEARFIELD -- The state's first regulations on electronic smoking devices and the e-liquid they contain could take effect as early as next week.

But even then, only in Davis County.

"We are the first local health department in the state to be working towards a countywide regulation concerning e-cigarettes to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our residents," Davis County Health Director Lewis R. Garrett told the Standard-Examiner.

"Also, we are aware that the state Legislature might consider passing a law dealing with these issues on a statewide basis," Garrett said.

The Davis health board at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday will meet to review and vote on whether to adopt county health regulations relating to electronic cigarettes and the contents of the e-liquid that is used in the devices.

If the regulations are approved, they would be effective immediately, with a reasonable grace period being offered to e-liquid manufacturers to comply with new labeling laws, health officials said.

The meeting will be on the third floor of the county health department offices, 22 S. State St. in Clearfield. The public is invited.

Health officials anticipate should the board adopt the regulations that the state Legislature will follow-up by introducing similar laws during the 2014 session in dealing with the latest smoking trend that has piqued the interest of minors.

Teen use of electronic cigarettes is at about 10 percent nationwide, while in Weber County, health officials report, the youth experimentation rate of e-cigarettes is at 30 percent, higher than 6 percent for the paper-tobacco product.

In Davis County the percentage of youth reporting current e-cigarette use is 8.9 percent, according to Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program 2013 statistics.

But area e-cigarette retailers, who have been working with Davis County health officials in putting together the state's first ever e-cigarette regulations, find the proposed county regulations something they can get behind.

"It is fully supported by the statewide industry," said Utah Vapers Director Aaron Frazier, whose group represents certified or working to be certified e-cigarette retailers.

"We advocate for smart, sensible, sustainable regulations that they find are not overreaching," Frazier said.

Utah Vapers commends Davis County Health officials for working with their group in developing the standards for its regulations that are right for both the industry and consumer, Frazier said.

"For a little more than a year, DCHD staff members have been working on researching information and meeting with local e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturers as well as creating a proposed regulation for the Davis County Board of Health," Garrett said.

The purpose of the county health regulation is to protect residents and employees by establishing practices and provisions for the safe preparation, handling and sale of substances used in electronic smoking devices, according to the county health website.

The regulations introduce requirements for e-cigarette specialty shops and how the e-liquids the shop sells are labeled and advertised.

E-liquid product labels, under the new regulations, must clearly display the nicotine content in the juice by milligrams per milliliter; the vendor's name; ingredients; artificial food coloring number when applicable; and safety and health warnings regarding keeping the product away from children and pets.

"If the e-liquid does not contain nicotine, the label must state that the product was produced in a facility that processes nicotine," the regulation states. 

All labeling must be smear resistant, and all e-liquid containers must have child-proof, leak-proof, tamper-resistant caps.

The maximum allowable nicotine content in the e-liquid shall be no greater than 36 milligrams per milliliter.

The regulation also gives the health department the authority to conduct "random testing" on e-cigarette store products being sold.

The same regulation also requires retailer websites, social media pages, or in-store advertisements not make any health or therapeutic claims such as e-cigarettes or the use of e-liquids are a healthy alternative to smoking or are a smoking cessation product. 

E-cig retailers are also required by regulation to keep their products out of reach of youth.

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

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