United States: Expanded Washington Laws Regulating Vapor Products Take Effect

Washington is the latest state to impose enhanced regulatory requirements upon retailers and distributors of vapor cigarettes, as well as upon the consumer use of these products. New legislation concerning "vapor products" in Washington took effect on June 28, 2016. The new laws regulate many aspects of the sale, distribution and use of vapor products, which are defined to include "any electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or similar product or device and any vapor cartridge or other container that may contain nicotine in a solution or other form that is intended to be used with or in an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or similar product or device," but specifically do not include "marijuana, useable marijuana, marijuana concentrates, marijuana-infused products, cigarette, or tobacco products."

The new legislation imposes several new requirements, including the following:

  • Licenses required. A license will be required for retailers, distributors and delivery sellers of vapor products operating in the state. The licenses will be issued by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The new licensure forms are scheduled to be available by August 1, per the Board's website: http://www.liq.wa.gov/vape/regulating-vapor-products.
  • Retailer signage. Retailers of vapor products must display a sign concerning the prohibition of sale of vapor products to minors.
  • Labeling requirements. Warnings must be included on the label of vapor products regarding: (a) the harmful effects of nicotine; (b) keeping the vapor product away from children; (c) the fact that vaping is illegal for those under the legal age to use the product. In addition, the label must advise of the amount of nicotine in milligrams per milliliter of liquid along with the total volume of the liquid contents of the product expressed in milliliters.
  • Underage purchases illegal. Purchases of vapor products by individuals under the age of 18 will be illegal (class 3 civil infraction).
  • Age Verification Requirements. Retailers will be subject to an age identification requirement for purchasers who may be under the age of 18.
  • Mail and Internet Sales. The new law provides that no person may conduct a delivery sale or otherwise ship or transport, or cause to be shipped or transported, any vapor product ordered or purchased by mail or through the internet to any person unless such seller has a valid delivery sale license as required under this chapter. Additional requirements related to age verification and acceptable payment forms are also imposed upon delivery sellers.
  • Child-resistant Packaging. Any liquid nicotine container that is sold at retail must be packaged in accordance with federal child-resistant standards.
  • Tasting of Vapor Products. The new law imposes requirements upon the offer of a tasting of vapor products to the general public.
  • Coupons. No person may give or distribute vapor products to a person free of charge by coupon, unless the vapor product was provided to the person as a contingency of prior or the same purchase as part of an in-person transaction or delivery sale.
  • Prohibition of Use of Vapor Products in Certain Public Places. Use of vapor products will be prohibited in child care facilities, schools, locations within 500 feet of schools, school buses and elevators.
  • Penalties Against Licensees: The new law imposes penalties and sanctions upon licensees under the new act for violations of the new laws.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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