Six months into Pierce County's ban on vaping in public and workplaces, local health officials have meshed the county's regulations with a new state law that overrides the county's on the use of e-cigarettes and related products. The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health voted July 6 to update the regulations and align them with state law that took effect June 28. The changes removed parts of the local code relating to activities that the state will regulate under Senate Bill 6328. They include licensing or retail sales of vapor products. Retailers must obtain licenses from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to sell vapor products. The board began accepting license apolications on Aug. 1. The state board will also regulate vapor product possession or use for youth under 18 years of age, which is illegal statewide. The county Board of Health has adopted local e-cigarette rules that, similar to state regulations, prohibit the use of vapor products in indoor public places and in places of employment, set penalties for violations, prohibit the use of vapor products within 25 feet of entrances, exits, windows and ventilation intakes of public places, and ban vapor products at beaches and sports venues. The revised regulations are online at www.tpchd.org/ecigarettes. Effective Aug. 8, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulate vapor products and e-cigarettes the same way as tobacco products. SB 6328 was approved by the Legislature in March and signed into law by the governor April 19. The new state law preempts some of the local requirements, according to the county Health Department. The health board sought public comment in June before updating its regulations last month. SB 6328's sponsor in the Legislature was Sen. Bruce Dammeier, who is a candidate for Pierce County executive in this year's election. Dammeier said the legislation's goal is to keep e-cigarettes and vapor products away from young people and prevent punitive new taxes or local regulations aimed at cracking down on the vaping industry. Among other things, the new law requires childproof packaging for liquid vapor products and prohibits vaping in schools, childcare facilities and playgrounds. "We don't want our young kids to be accidentally poisoned, and we don't want our teenagers getting hooked on nicotine,GÇ¥ Dammeier said. "But we shouldn't confuse vaping with smoking. Many adults are finding that e-cigarette vapor products help them quit the (tobacco) habit. We need to make sure we preserve that option for adults.GÇ¥ Dammeier said a main element of controversy in recent years over the industry has been whether e-cigarettes should be taxed and regulated like tobacco products.
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