The Utah County Health Board voted on Nov. 24 to place greater regulation on electronic cigarettes, following many other counties in the state. The new regulations cover the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes with sanitation and youth protection in mind, said Lynneah Fletcher of the Utah County Health Department.
“There’s really two parts to the regulation. The first side is for the retail. Anybody that’s selling will need to be permitted through the Utah County Health Department,” she said. “It’s to prevent youth access. The other side is the manufacturing piece. So, it has everything from sanitation [to] cleanliness of the facility.”
The sale and promotion of e-cigarettes has grown in recent years as state and local governments around the country continue to restrict the use of traditional cigarettes. Many young people still have misconceptions surrounding e-cigarettes, Fletcher said.
“They don’t think that there’s nicotine in them. Even the bottles that say there’s zero nicotine in them, they’re still containing traces of nicotine,” she said. “Another thing, as far as the youth goes, they think that it’s just water vapor. It’s actually not water. It’s an oil-based product, vegetable oil flavoring [with] nicotine in it.”
Popular misinformation about e-cigarettes has led youth who don’t normally use tobacco to use the new device. Utah’s rate of teenage use of the product is on the rise, she said.
“Here in the state of Utah, we have a youth usage rate of about 5.9 percent. We are actually higher than the national average,” Fletcher said. “So, we’re seeing that youth who wouldn’t try a traditional cigarette are actually trying an e-cigarette instead.”
The new regulations have been given a 90-day implementation period.