Vapor Product Laws:
Regulating Vapor Products
HB 6328 regulates vapor products that will impact all tobacco retailers was passed by the Washington State Legislature during the 2016 Legislative Session and is effective June 28, 2016. It applies to items such as the ban on open displays, tasting restrictions, ad restrictions on coupons, as well as requirements for child-resistant packaging and labeling of products.
What does the bill do?
The law accomplishes the following:
- Establishes important youth access protections to reduce illegal youth access to vapor products, including packaging requirements such as child-resistant packaging.
- Provides penalties for those who do not comply with new requirements.
- Regulates Internet and distribution markets.
- Provides common-sense consumer protections, such as warnings and nicotine content disclosure.
- Establishes fines and fees for vapor products to pay for enforcement and prevention and education. (This is the first increase in fees and fines in 23 years.)
The law does not:
- Prohibit tastings and samplings.*
- Regulate or place restrictions on flavors.
- Ban Internet sales to adults.
- Impose a tax on vapor products.**
*The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently adopted rules that prohibit tastings or samplings of vapor products containing nicotine at no cost. These rules become effective on August 8, 2016. While tastings or sampling of vapor products containing nicotine at no cost are illegal after this date, tasting or samplings of vapor products that do not contain nicotine at no cost are permitted under certain restrictions in state law.
**See the 2019 legislation (HB 1873) on the taxation of vapor products.
What products are affected by the bill?
The law regulates all vapor products, whether or not they contain nicotine. Additionally, new federal tobacco laws now apply to ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems that contain tobacco or nicotine,) cigars, hookahs, pipe tobacco, and dissolvable tobacco and gels.
Vapor products include any electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or similar product or device, and any vapor cartridge or other container that may contain nicotine in a solution or other form that is intended to be used with or in an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-cigarillo, e-pipe, or similar product or device.
These vapor products are defined as a noncombustible product that may contain nicotine and that employs a heating element, power source, chemical, or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size that can be used to produce vapor or aerosol from a solution or other substance. It does not include any product that meets the definition of cannabis, useable cannabis, cannabis concentrates, cannabis-infused products, cigarette, or tobacco products (reference definition in RCW 69.50.101).
For more information, please visit the new Vapor Products page on the LCB website.
If vapor products don’t contain nicotine, are they regulated under the new state vapor
Yes. The new law states “may contain…” Other fluids that can be vaporized in e-cigarettes, e-hookah, or similar vaporizing devices, are vapor products.
What are the restrictions for use of vapor products?
It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess, or obtain vapor products. A person under 21 possessing vapor products may face an infraction penalty.
Local governments are granted the authority to enact ordinances regulating indoor vapor products use in public places provided such ordinances are otherwise consistent with the provisions of the new law. The law introduces location restrictions within the following indoor places:
- Child care facilities
- Within five hundred feet of schools
- School buses
The use of vapor products is prohibited in the following outdoor areas:
- Outdoor areas of property upon which a child care facility is located and which are under the control of the child care facility.
- Real property upon which a school is located and which is under the control of the school, and playgrounds.
What is the effective date of the new state law?
The new law has several effective dates:
- Effective date of June 28, 2016, applies to items such as the ban on open displays, tasting restrictions, and restrictions on use of coupons, as well as requirements for child-resistant packaging and labeling.
Do I have to get a license?
Vapor product retailers, distributors and delivery sellers must obtain a license from the LCB in order to conduct business in Washington. The penalty for failing to comply with the licensing requirement is a Class C Felony. The Board is given authorities to enforce vapor product retailer licenses. Licenses must be renewed annually and must be exhibited in the retailer's place of business.
What are the license fees?
Fees are set for all vapor product licenses, raised for certain tobacco retailers, and set for retailers with both vapor product and tobacco licenses.
|Retail-Level - License Type||New Fee||
|Cigarette||$ 175.00||$ 93.00|
|Other Tobacco Products (OTP)||$ 175.00||$ 93.00|
|Vapor Products*||$ 175.00||N/A|
|Cigarette & Other Tobacco Products (OTP)||$ 175.00||$ 93.00|
|Other - License Type for combo fee||Fee||OLD Fee|
|Cigarette plus a retail vapor products||$ 250.00||N/A|
|OTP plus a retail vapor products||$ 250.00||N/A|
|Cigarette & OTP & retail vapor products||$ 250.00||N/A|
|Other - License Type - not in the combo||Fee||OLD Fee|
|Vapor Product Distributor||$ 150.00||N/A|
|VP Distributor for each Additional Location||$ 100.00||N/A|
|Vapor Product Delivery Sale||$ 250.00||N/A|
|*A $175 fee must be paid for each retail vapor product location.|
The option of a “combination price” is available when both a Vapor Retailer and a Cigarette Retailer (or other tobacco product retailer) is being applied for at the same time and for the same location.
For an existing Cigarette Retailer or OTP Retailer that adds a Vapor Retailer license for an existing licensed location, the “combo” price does not apply until the retailer renews the licenses together.
It is also important to note that if a Vapor Retailer chooses at a later date to add a Cigarette or OTP retailer license, the “combo” price does not apply.
What is the license application process?
Applicants must submit an online application, along with a personal criminal history statement, through the Department of Revenue’s Business License System.
The application is processed by the LCB Criminal History and Records Unit. The unit conducts a background check on applicant(s). Upon completion and approval, the license is issued and displays on a master business license along with any other state business license the applicant holds.
Where can I get additional information or resources?
Please visit these websites:
- DOH – www.doh.wa.gov
- LCB – www.lcb.wa.gov and/or sign up on LCB GovDelivery
- DOR – www.bls.dor.wa.gov
- FDA for federal regulations – www.fda.gov
What are the penalties related to vapor products?
Under 21 – It is illegal for minors to possess, purchase or attempt to purchase, or obtain or attempt to obtain vapor products. Minors may be cited with a civil infraction for these actions.
Over 21 – Adults may be cited with a gross misdemeanor for furnishing vapor products to minors. Administrative fines may also apply (up to $200.)
What are the administrative penalties for a retailer who sells to a minor?
The business owner may cited with administrative fines up to $3,000. The clerk may be cited with administrative fines up to $200. Monetary penalties are subject to graduated increases for repeat violations of regulatory provisions within any three-year period.