Vaping Laws in North Carolina

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It’s no secret that the popularity of vaping has been increasing over the years. Many people vape socially while others see vaping as a better alternative to traditional smoking. For somebody that may not know, vaping entails inhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette. This is a battery-operated device that resembles a conventional cigarette. But, some have more sophisticated and compact designs that allow users to vape discreetly.

However, the device works by heating a cartridge in which a solution that may include flavors and nicotine is added. When the solution is heated, it produces the vapor that is inhaled by the user. The current market has many brands of this device but most of them light up their end when in use. This enables them to mimic traditional cigarettes.

Currently, vaping is a subject that is being debated. In fact, the subject has pending state and federal rules. In some places, vaping remains a subject of the local laws. This article addresses vaping laws in North Carolina. But, before tackling this topic, it’s important to understand federal laws on vaping.

Federal Regulation of E-Cig

In April, the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, announced that it intends to regulate vaping and related products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 2009. The FDA proposed rule would prohibit the sale of these products to the youth, some vending machine sales, and require the inclusion of health warnings in the products. It would also require their manufacturers to have the FDA register the products and include lists of their ingredients. New products would also be subjected to pre-market review by the FDA. Claims about their reduced risks would only be made after confirmation by the FDA following scientific evidence.

All smoking cessation products or aids are regulated by the FDA. These include chewing gum and nicotine patches as per Chapter Five of the federal Drugs, Food and Cosmetic Act. Currently, vaping products are yet to be approved as smoking cessation products by the FDA.

Vaping Regulation in North Carolina

North Carolina has legislation that addresses vaping in some places. According to the state, the vapor products that are used to vape are noncombustible products that use mechanical heating, electronic circuit or battery to heat nicotine solution in vapor cartridge regardless of their size or shape. North Carolina has laws that regulate vaping as follows:

Sale of Vaping Products to Minors

In 2013, legislation that banned selling vaping products like an e cigar from Vaping Daily to North Carolina minors was enacted and it became effective in August 2013. Although there was a law that prohibited tobacco products’ sale to minors, it didn’t include vaping gadgets in its definition. The statute referred to tobacco containing products only. Therefore, the definition was amended to include vaping products or noncombustible vaping products.

The law also required distributors of these products to include signs that inform consumers that selling them to minors is prohibited. Their sale via vending machines was also prohibited. People that sell the products via the internet were also required to verify the buyer’s age by comparing the information that the individuals placing the orders provide.

Taxation of Vaping Products

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacted an omnibus tax law that introduced excise tax on all vaping products. In section 15.1, S.L 2014-3 defines a consumable product and vapor product for tax laws purposes. Although consumable and vapor products have the same definition, it’s not identical to that of the law that bans vapor products’ sale to minors. It also includes electronic pipes, cigarillos, cigars, and cigarettes.

The law imposes a tax on the nicotine solution that vapers use. It sets a tax of five cents per consumable product’s milliliter. According to this law, the new tax would raise approximately $5 million annually.

Vaping in Correctional Facilities

The Omnibus tax law addresses vaping in correctional facilities. It prohibits vaping and tobacco products in the premises of the correctional facility. Vapor products are included in the list of the tobacco products that are prohibited by the omnibus tax bill G.S 148-23. This prohibition became effective on 1st July 2014 and it covers employees, visitors, and inmates.

Vaping in Bars and Restaurants

North Carolina has a Smoke-Free Public Places Law. According to this law, smoking is prohibited in most bars and restaurants in North Carolina. It also prohibits smoking in state government vehicles and buildings. The law authorizes adoption of health rules board, ordinances, and policies by the local governments that restrict smoking in buildings, grounds of local governments and public places. But, this law has restrictions.

It’s also important to note that this law covers smoking only. It defines smoking as possessing or using a lighted cigar, lighted cigarette, lighted pipe, or other tobacco product. Enactment of this law elicited a debate on whether vaping products are tobacco products. Though the recent legislation includes vaping products like e-cigarette in tobacco products’ definition for purposes of regulation, it doesn’t cover them. That’s because users of these devices do not light them. The statute does not define lighted. However, it can be defined as burning or ignited. And this is not the description of vaping products’ action mechanism.

The Bottom Line

North Carolina does not have a statewide ban of vaping, especially in bars and restaurants. However, bars and restaurants owners can prohibit vaping in their premises. Additionally, there is no explicit law that allows local governments to regulate vaping in public places or local government buildings.

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