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Is it "alarmist rhetoric" to say we need a special session for e-cigarette usage in Arkansas? Some will say yes others no, and more might just not care.

But do you care about the unknown health impact these non-tobacco vapors are having on users, especially, it seems, young people?

The most recent Legislature enacted laws to move the legal age up from 18 to buy cigarettes in Arkansas. They also included e-cigarettes in that prohibition. But many say that law is not working.

The age limit is now 21 with a caveat for active military service members or those who will turn 19 by December of this year.

It is a very confusing prohibition of trying to ban e-cigarettes in the state.

There are, however, some new laws for e-cigarettes, but are those newly enacted laws enough?

First, the state does define an e-cigarette as a vapor product meaning "an electronic oral device of any size or shape that contains a vapor of nicotine, e-liquid, or any other substance that, when used or inhaled, simulates smoking, regardless of whether a visible vapor is produced."

Most vaping devices are composed of a heating element, battery, electronic circuit, chemical process, mechanical device, or a combination working with a cartridge, other container or liquid delivery device containing nicotine, e-liquid, or any other substance and manufactured for use with vapor products.

All these types of e-cigarettes are manufactured, distributed, marketed or sold as a type or derivation of a vapor product, e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe or other product name or descriptor, according to state code.

The e-cigarette may contain an e-liquid which is defined as "a liquid product which may or may not contain nicotine, that is inhaled when using a vapor product, and that may or may not include without limitation propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine from any source, and flavorings."

The state has laws for smoke-free schools and campuses now on the law books.

But there is currently no state excise tax or a special tax (such as a non-sales tax) on e-cigarettes in Arkansas.

All e-cigarette products in Arkansas must be sold in child-resistant packaging (excepting pre-filled and sealed cartridges not intended to be opened by the consumer.)

The sale of vapor products, e-liquids or any component thereof is prohibited to persons under age 21 unless the person is active-duty military or will have attained the age of 19 years as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Distribution of free samples of vapor products, e-liquids or components, or coupons for free samples thereof near youth-centered places or to persons under age 18 is prohibited.

Possession, use or purchase of vapor products, e-liquids or components thereof by persons under age 21 is prohibited, unless the person is active-duty military or has attained the age of 19 years by Dec. 31, 2019.

Self-service displays and vending machine sales of vapor products or e-liquids are restricted to specialty tobacco and vape shops and locations inaccessible to persons under age 21 unless the vending machine is under employee supervision.

There are separate permits required by the state for wholesalers, wholesaler salespersons, retailers and vending machine sales.

The use of vapor products or e-liquids on grounds of any school or at off-campus school-sponsored events, in or on the grounds of any childcare facility, school or childcare vehicles, or a healthcare facility is prohibited.

The uses of e-cigarettes are "prohibited on each campus of state-supported institutions of higher education." And the use of e-cigarettes near State Park buildings is also restricted."

But still, the numbers of vapor-using e-cigarette use in Arkansas is alarming. How long until the health-related illnesses show up here, costing Arkansas' future healthcare systems millions and millions of dollars?

How long must more foot-dragging go on in Little Rock before someone steps up to pass even more laws to protect the health and welfare of those Arkansans who are poisoning themselves with this new fad?

How long indeed?

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 09/18/2019

Print Headline: Does state need a special session on e-cigarettes?

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