Can you vape at your local park, beach, or restaurant without breaking the law or drawing sideways glances? Some states in the US are more friendly to vaping and e-cigarettes than others, and some vapers have a hard time finding anywhere they can enjoy a quiet puff when they’re out of the house. Today we are sharing some of the worst of the worst states to live in if you’re a vaper or e-cigarette user, so you know where (and where not) to bring your vape along.
Hawaii is one of the worst states to live in if you are a vaper. The state has taken a very hard-line approach to vaping and smoking, and was the very first state in the US to raise the legal smoking age to 21. As if that weren’t enough, the law also banned all tobacco products and e-cigarettes in public places, including parks, beaches, and any place where cigarette smoking is banned.
Hawaii is home to anti-e-cigarette lawmaker Rosalyn Baker, who has dedicated much of her time as a state senator cracking down on e-cigarettes and tobacco products. Back in 2014, Hawaii narrowly avoided banning all e-liquids and e-cigarettes with Senate Bill 2222, which banned all flavored tobacco products from being sold in the state. Senator Baker, who sponsored the bill, finally agreed to exempt e-cigarettes and vapor products from the ban and instead “work on e-cigarettes as a stand-alone product.” That didn’t stop her from trying to classify “any product containing nicotine, but not containing tobacco” as a tobacco product in her 2015 bill to enact an 80% wholesale tax on vapor products, which ultimately failed to pass.
We’ve talked about Indiana previously on our blog, and how it joined the terrible-vaping-laws club in 2015 when it passed a law requiring all companies that sell vapor products to obtain a permit from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. This wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself if the permit requirements were fair and reasonable, but they are not. The law requires all e-cigarette manufacturers selling in Indiana, including those located out of state, to post security in all their production and storage rooms 24/7, and send in blueprints of their manufacturing facilities to the state.
If that weren’t enough to make any vaper’s blood boil, Indiana’s law has prompted corruption investigations and harsh criticism for giving control of the Indiana vaping industry to a select few e-liquid manufacturers. The problem is that the law gave one small security firm gatekeeper power over the state’s entire vapor market, and that security firm has only approved a handful of producers—six to be exact—and turned the rest away. When the June 30th, 2016 deadline for acquiring permits has passed, the Indiana vapor market was permanently closed to new producers. One of the key sponsors of the legislation, Senator Ron Alting, insists that it wasn’t the intent of the law to exclude so many businesses and promised to “work with the leadership in the Senate,” and “get that [law] fixed.” Luckily, a court ruled that eliquid and vapor product sales would be allowed to continue as normal until the situation gets sorted and more permits can be given out. It’s a good sign, but 2016 has certainly been a hard year for vapers and vapor businesses in Indiana.
If you are a vaper in Oregon, don’t expect to find any vapor bars or to be able to sample flavors in a vapor shop. In 2015, Oregon jumped on the bandwagon of cracking down on indoor e-cigarette use and vaping. With the support of Governor Kate Brown, Ohio passed a law that incorporated vapor products into their Clean Air Act, banning them in offices, restaurants, and indoor public spaces.
But the law was especially harsh because, to the dismay of vapor shops and vaping enthusiasts across the state, the law doesn’t even allow vaping in vapor retail shops or lounges that were specifically designed for vaping, even though cigar bars got a pass. Cigar bars and lounges are allowed to apply for permits for indoor smoking, while vapor lounges get no exceptions and are totally left out to dry. Now Oregon is about to single out vapor products for taxes, too; new legislation introduced in the Oregon House of Representatives early in 2016 would raise e-cigarette taxes in the state by 50 percent, but the bill hasn’t reached a vote yet.
If you live in New York, you know that the state is serious about banning public smoking, and lawmakers are now working hard to restrict e-cigarette use as well. New York City banned e-cigarettes and vaping in all public places except vapor retail shops in 2013 when vapor products were added to the Smoke-Free Air Act. But now, New York City is trying to ban vapers from puffing in vape stores, too. Not that there’s even that many vapor retail stores, anyway; New York is ranked the third worst in the nation for the number of vape shops, even though it’s one of the most densely populated places in the America.
New York also has a statewide public smoking ban, although it doesn’t specifically mention e-cigarettes or vaping. That hasn’t stopped cops from arresting vapers anyway, though. Luckily, a New York court recently ruled that vaping and smoking are not the same thing, and that vaping in public is not a violation of the state’s public smoking ban. However, more legislation is underway that would amend the law to ban vaping and e-cigarettes in public throughout the entire state after all.
Laws Aren’t Written in Stone
Reading about all the state governments and lawmakers that have restricted vaping and access to vapor products can be disheartening, but knowledge is the first step to change. Even though many places in the US have been swept up in a trend of cracking down and taxing vapor products, the tide could turn at any moment. 2016 has seen the vaping community gearing up to fight the FDA and other government regulations that threaten the rights of vapers everywhere. Hopefully the next year will see greater acceptance and access to e-cigarettes and vapor products across America.