Legal Issues Surrounding E-Cigarettes Legal Issues Surrounding E-Cigarettes

E-cigarette laws are rapidly changing around the world, and in many ways the changes are for the better. But there should be no doubt that the laws that stand are being enforced. Vaping in the United Kingdom is about to change due to new laws that will take effect on May 20. Anyone breaking those laws could be punished with jail time up to two years. At least one person in the United States has been sentenced to jail for a crime involving e-cigarettes, while some Australia e-cigarette companies have been hit with potentially bankrupting fines for not following the country’s rules.

The British laws involve mostly the amount of e-liquid that can be sold and how much nicotine can be contained in it. In an apparent effort to reduce poisoning risk or limit access to nicotine to non-smokers, the new law will limit nicotine content to no more than 20 mg per liter. That could be called a high-medium range, so UK vapers will no longer be able to purchase high or very high level e-liquid. Heavy smokers may find that switching to e-cigarettes is not as effective without being able to start at these levels of nicotine.

The amount of liquid per bottle is also being limited to 10 ml, and tanks are being cut to a maximum size of 2 ml. These changes could raise prices and make refilling a more frequent task.

All of these changes have the dangerous potential to frustrate smokers who want to quit with e-cigs and cause them to fail or give up the idea of switching altogether. But a few of the new UK laws make sense, like ingredient listings and child-proof packaging. E-liquids will also have to be registered with the UK government.

Vaping in the U.S. suffered a letdown at the end of April when Congress voted the Cole-Bishop Amendment out of the 2017 budget. Poised to be a rider, the legislation was voted out along with 159 other riders, and now probably won’t be taken up again for several months. The Cole-Bishop amendment aims to change the FDA rules that are going into effect in 2018 to allow all e-cigarette products manufactured prior to 2016 to remain on the market without the need for an expensive testing process.

Meanwhile, a U.S. lawman is facing jail time for a scheme in which he and a relative made tens of thousands of dollars illegally selling e-cigarettes to prison inmates. The Sheriff of Rutherford County, Tennessee was sentenced to four years in prison and will have to pay $52,500 in restitution. The federal crime he was found guilty of was corruption. He’s also going to have to give up the money he made selling e-cigarettes.

Laws against e-cigarettes haven’t been much tougher anywhere than in Oceania, with both Australia and New Zealand banning the devices. New Zealand has overturned their ban, however, but Australia’s still stands. The ban only applies to e-cigarettes and liquids that contain nicotine. Recently three Australian companies were hit with heavy fines for claiming that their e-cigarettes were free of carcinogens. An investigation by a consumer watchdog group discovered that the liquid contained formaldehyde, which is classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. One of the companies, Joystick, disappeared from the internet after the fines were handed down. The others changed their websites and clarified that their products do contain formaldehyde and other carcinogenic ingredients.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.