E-cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes. There are many new companies, some of them public, that are manufacturing e-cigarettes and making a lot of money doing so. E-cigarettes are different from traditional cigarettes in that they are battery operated and heat a liquid that contains nicotine and turns it into vapor that can be inhaled and exhaled. While an e-cigarette often looks like a traditional cigarette and a person smoking one looks like he/she is exhaling smoke, it is actually vapor. E-cigarette proponents say since the e-cigarette user is not burning tobacco which is a carcinogen when inhaled, e-cigarettes are much safer. Others say that a person smoking an e-cigarette is still inhaling harmful substances and it is too soon to tell what the long term effects might be.
As expected, the federal government has decided to get involved. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed some rules to regulate e-cigarettes. They have proposed banning sales to minors, requiring warning labels on the packages and requiring approval for new products. These are similar to rules governing the sale of traditional cigarettes. Of course, as we learn more about e-cigarettes, more regulations may follow such as banning flavored e-cigarettes that might be more tempting to kids or banning Internet sales that make it easier for kids to buy them.
As these regulations and laws go into effect, it is important for retail store owners to be aware of them. As the police have done and continue to do with what they call “synthetic marijuana”, we would expect law enforcement to go to certain places that sell e-cigarettes and start making arrests if and when e-cigarettes are sold in violation of the laws and regulations.