Law puts new restrictions on e-cigarettes and tobacco products

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A new Utah law that goes into effect on July 1 will increase the minimum age for Nicotine to age 21, establish new recovery youth programs, and regulate how these products are sold.

Harriet Norcross
The House of Representatives Chamber (Harriet Norcross)

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-Ogden, sponsored the controversial bill. SB 37, which was passed on March 12 and signed into law March 28. The measure will increase the minimum age to 21 for obtaining, possessing, using, or providing electronic cigarettes, tobacco, and nicotine products. According to the bill, it is expected that these new regulations will reduce the use of nicotine products and electronic cigarettes in the youth.

Also, the law will require all tobacco retailers to keep a sales transaction log and deny the manufacturer, retailer, and wholesaler to provide certain discounts. Furthermore, any retailers or distributors must obtain a license from the local health department. If products are sold improperly, for instance, like in a giveaway or sold with certain discounts, the individual may be penalized including a felony charge.

“Vaping and e-cigarettes are an epidemic they’re going on, beyond our control it seems, not only in the high school level but at the junior high school level and down into elementary schools,” Christensen said.

This bill will create new projects on behalf of youth to prevent and recover from nicotine and tobacco substances. It would establish a Youth Electronic Cigarette, Marijuana, and Other Drug Prevention Program within the Utah Department of Health. 

This new program will receive funds to support the initiatives on recovery and prevention. Also, this program will be available in different local health departments, so it can be more accessible in various locations.

“We appreciate the money that’s going to come to local health departments to help us in effectively enforcing rules and regulations,” said Jordan Mathis, director of TriCounty Health, “more importantly we’re interested in the prevention factor that will provide, and [the] discourage [when] using these products.”

Furthermore, this bill will impose additional taxes on tobacco and e-cigarettes. Before the bill was revised and substituted, Walter Plumb, head of Drug Safety Utah, spoke against the bill because the e-cigarettes would not be taxed. “This little pod is the equivalent to this pack of cigarettes. This is a jewel pod. And this is a vaporizing device, by not taxing this little device, this is equivalent to each other,” said Plumb “You’re giving an advantage to buying a vaping pod.”

Lawmakers amended the bill so that e-cigarettes and other nicotine products will be taxed at .56 multiplied by the manufacturer’s sales price, or at a rate of $1.83 per ounce.


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