Capitol Alert

Federal e-cigarette rules on parallel track with new California law

How do California’s new tobacco laws affect you?

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed California's most significant new tobacco legislation in decades.
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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed California's most significant new tobacco legislation in decades.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill regulating electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled its own long-awaited e-cigarette regulations.

How do they differ?

In short, the states and the federal government oversee different aspects of how the product is sold, marketed and consumed. The two new sets of regulations will run on parallel tracks.

“The feds are what’s in it and how are new products brought to market,” said Timothy Gibbs, a lobbyist the for American Cancer Society’s California branch. “The state is where can you use it and how do you sell it.”

Manufacturers will have to report to the FDA the contents of e-cigarette fluid, which is heated into a mist that can be inhaled. The federal rules will bar e-cigarette advertisements from making health claims and require warning labels on the products. Minors will be blocked from buying e-cigarettes nationwide.

California already barred people under the age of 18 from buying e-cigarettes, so the federal rule won’t change that. But because Brown also signed a bill boosting the age for buying to tobacco to 21, Californians will now need to be 21 to buy e-cigarettes (Remember: They’re now considered tobacco products).

The California law will ban vaping in places where you can’t light up a cigarette, like in bars or restaurants. They’ll also require people who sell e-cigarettes to get tobacco licenses, which will cost $265 a year. State officials who police tobacco sellers, including stings to catch sales to underage people, will now monitor e-cigarettes as well.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert