If Tennessee Passes An E-Cigarette Law, It Probably Won’t Resemble Big Cities’ Bans

The proposal, Senate Bill 1698 by Overbey, would create a legal definition for "vapor products" in Tennessee, and separate them from taxes and rules on tobacco products. (Photo: flickr/justinmatthew21)

The proposal, Senate Bill 1698 by Overbey, would create a legal definition for “vapor products” in Tennessee, and separate them from taxes and rules on tobacco products. (Photo: flickr/justinmatthew21)

Tennessee lawmakers are catching up to what’s been a regulatory gray area—electronic cigarettes.  Proponents of vaporizing nicotine, or “vaping,” want a new bill to make sure the state doesn’t treat it like tobacco.

Among those backing the proposal is Nija Walker, who runs the LifeCig Electronic Cigarettes store in Knoxville.  Walker says he smoked real cigarettes for more than a decade, but now gets his nicotine fix the vapor way—no more setting tobacco on fire and breathing in.

“It’s still nicotine.  It looks like smoke, it feels like smoke, but it’s not smoke.  That’s why it can be tolerated indoors and other places like that where a smoking ban might prevent you from smoking a cigarette.”

Walker also wants to make sure electronic cigarettes aren’t taxed like tobacco, which he acknowledges would protect his bottom line.

If the legislature goes along, it would run counter to recent bans in cities like New York and Chicago.  Tennessee’s health department also put out a warning this month, saying manufacturers are hardly regulated, and the health risks are largely unknown.

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