CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller urged the Iowa legislature Monday to address the regulation of electronic cigarettes in its laws and policies.
Miller urged state lawmakers to add e-cigarettes to the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, ban e-cigarette sales to minors and determine if the state should tax the products higher than the standard sales tax rate. E-cigarettes are battery operated products that heat liquid nicotine into a vapor inhaled by the user.
"Over the past several years e-cigarettes have developed technologically, and they have grown quickly in popularity," Miller said. "Our state laws, regulations and policies don't address these products, and I think it's time for the legislature to begin the conversation."
Four states, Utah, North Dakota, New Jersey and Arkansas, included e-cigarettes in their indoor smoking bans. Miller said Iowa's Smokefree Air Act has yet to address e-cigarettes.
Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are currently no state or federal age restrictions preventing children from using or buying e-cigarettes.
"I am not calling for a ban on e-cigarettes, but I am calling on state lawmakers to stop allowing their sales to minors," Miller said.
While Iowa currently taxes cigarettes at $1.36 per package of 20 and $1.70 per package of 25, in addition to the state's regular six percent sales tax, e-cigarettes are currently taxed at the standard six percent tax rate.
"The legislature first needs to define e-cigarettes, and then determine whether the current six percent sales tax rate is appropriate," Miller said.
In September, Miller and 35 other attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act. The FDA is expected to propose its first rules on e-cigarettes this week.