OLYMPIA – Washington will become the first state in the nation to ensure e-cigarettes and “vape” products are labeled with health warnings and nicotine content.
“Washington is taking a big step forward to preventing a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine with today’s vote to regulate e-cigarettes,” said Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle). “Consumers deserve, and need to know what they are inhaling into their lungs.”
Testing by the FDA and independent researchers have repeatedly found major brands of “vape” products, including flavors marketed to teens, had far higher nicotine levels than disclosed. Indeed, some which said they had no nicotine, actually had high levels of addictive nicotine.
“We will prevent tens of thousands of high school students from becoming addicted to nicotine every year,” Pollet said.
A quarter of high school seniors used e-cigarettes and vapor products last year – a dramatic increase. There are no current state laws in Washington regulating the sales of e-cigarettes and other vaping products to minors. These consumer protections measures will require retailers to be licensed and have the same restrictions on sales of these products as cigarettes. The bill also increased the retail license fee for cigarette sales for the first time in 23 years to improve enforcement against sales to minors.
“Consumers have a right to know what they are inhaling into their lungs. The new law will require accurate disclosure of the nicotine in e-cigarettes and vapor products,” said Pollet. “Unfortunately, we did have to compromise with the Senate and industry and removed provisions passed by the House which would have regulated known carcinogens and toxic substances.”
Since Rep. Pollet began working with local health officials, advocates, and UW School of Public Health to regulate e-cigarettes 3 years ago, an estimated 50,000 teenagers in Washington began using e-cigarettes and “vaping.” Research shows that 50% of e-cigarette users also regularly use cigarettes.