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Florida Electronic Cigarette Regulation

On July 1, 2014, SB 224 went into effect as the first step forward for state level regulation of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in Florida. The bill restricts the sales of e-cigarettes in many of the same ways as tobacco products, with some important differences that will be discussed herein. Furthermore, our attorneys are glad to discuss compliance issues with you personally to advise you with your specific circumstances in mind at our offices.

Access and Age Restrictions

Retailers may not have e-cigarettes in open display containers unless such containers are inaccessible to customers, and e-cigarettes cannot be sold in vending machines. These restrictions do not apply to retailers which prohibit persons under the age of 18 on the premises.

It is now unlawful to sell e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18 and the prohibition also includes free samples.

E-cig regulation v Tobacco regulations

Signage Requirements

A retailer who sells tobacco products and e-cigarettes must now have additional language on the signage required under § 569.14, Fla. Stat. The new signs must substantially state the following:

THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS, NICOTINE PRODUCTS, OR NICOTINE DISPENSING DEVICES TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS AGAINST FLORIDA LAW. PROOF OF AGE IS REQUIRED FOR PURCHASE.

Retailers are also required to have an age identification system in use at the point of sale. The most common system is a calendar type sign which substantially states:

IF YOU WERE NOT BORN BEFORE THIS DATE

(insert applicable date and year)

YOU CANNOT BUY NICOTINE PRODUCTS OR NICOTINE DISPENSING DEVICES

Other appropriate systems include card readers, scanners, or other electronic or automated systems which negate the chance for human error by employees of the retailer.

Distinctions From Tobacco Regulations

The more important notes to draw here though are the distinctions in the statutory approach to tobacco and e-cigarettes. First, it is important to note that e-cigarettes fall under new Florida Statutes definitions in § 877.112, as a “nicotine dispensing device” and a “nicotine product.” This marks a positive beginning to Florida regulation as the definitions of e-cigarettes are not merely subsumed into tobacco products under the Florida Tobacco Statutes, Chapter 569. This also makes the future taxation of e-cigarettes appear advantageous in Florida. This is not only important for e-cigarette retailers and manufacturers in Florida, but also may become an important benefit to out of state e-cigarette companies as well. One need only look to New York and New Jersey to see that regulating and taxing e-cigarettes exactly like tobacco only leads to a continued decline in tax revenue and the loss of economic benefit from transactions in state.