Electronic cigarettes in King County
Electronic cigarettes are battery operated devices that deliver nicotine - the highly addictive substance in tobacco. On 12/16/10, the King County Board of Health passed an ordinance making it illegal to:
- sell e-cigarettes to minors
- offer free or discounted e-cigarettes
- use e-cigarettes in any area where smoking is prohibited by law
This county-wide ordinance, which went into effect on 1/15/11, will promote the public's health by preventing youth from nicotine addiction and preserving our public spaces as smoke-free.
What are electronic cigarettes?
- Battery-operated devices deliver nicotine vapor to mimic cigarette smoking
- Made of a cartridge filled with flavoring and various strengths of liquid nicotine
- Can cost as little as $10, but a starter kit is typically available for $50 to $100
- Not regulated or approved for use in tobacco cessation by the FDA
Why did the Board of Health ban e-cigarette sales to youth?
- E-cigarettes may appeal to youth because of:
- high-tech design
- placement in mall kiosks, convenience stores and online
- wide array of flavor cartridges, including fruit punch, chocolate and mint
- Use of e-cigarettes among youth can increase nicotine addiction and may lead to use of conventional tobacco products
Why aren't e-cigarettes a safe alternative to smoking?
- Testing by the FDA1 found products that:
- Contained diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans
- Contained human carcinogens (half of the samples tested)
- Misrepresented of nicotine level
- Had poor product quality control
- Companies continue to claim that e-cigarettes are a safe and effective way to quit using tobacco, without FDA approval or product testing
- Most e-cigarettes don't have health warnings comparable to FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes
For more information, call 206-296-7613.
This fact sheet is also available in PDF format.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 04/13/2011.