News and Events

Ordinance to Regulate Electronic Cigarettes Passed by Clay County Board of County Commissioners
May 14 , 2013

On May 14, 2013, the Clay County Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance creating rules on the marketing, sale, and use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) that are comparable to the rules in place for other tobacco products.

The Clay County Ordinance is the first of its kind in Florida, and is a response to a 2010 Federal Court case granting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the right to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.

Cklay County BOCC

E-cigarettes have been available in the United States since 2008.  The products, manufactured in China, are electronic devices that deliver heated nicotine in a cloud of chemicals that mimics cigarette smoke. 

The products initially entered the United States without any regulation.  The FDA attempted to regulate the products as a drug delivery device and halt their import until proper studies could be conducted.  The e-cigarette industry responded by suing the FDA, claiming that the products were simply tobacco products, leading to the Federal Court ruling.  In April 2011, the FDA announced that it would regulate e-cigarettes as it does other tobacco products.

Since that time, the FDA has been taking public comments on the proposed regulations, but the organization has not issued any specific guidelines for states and local communities.  

However, the Tobacco Control Act allows state and local governments to regulate the time, place, and manner of tobacco sales and marketing.  As a result, state and local governments are beginning to starting to pass their own rules regarding e-cigarettes. 

“Many of these rules simply apply the same standards to electronic cigarettes that are already in place for other tobacco products,” said Dr. Barry Hummel, a member of the Tobacco Prevention Network of Florida.  “While these rules are implied by the Federal Court ruling and the FDA decision to regulate these products, it is important to formalize these rules so that there are no loopholes.  This is exactly what the Clay County Commission accomplished with their timely ordinance.”

The new Clay County Ordinance regarding e-cigarettes does three things.  First, it restricts the sale of these products to adults 18 years of age and older.  Second, it requires that all electronic cigarettes are placed behind the counter, consistent with the existing tobacco product placement ordinance.  Finally, it restricts the use of e-cigarettes in all places that restrict the use of regular cigarettes, placing the new products under the current rules of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.

In the discussion leading up to the vote by the Clay County Board of County Commissioners, District 4 Commissioner Chereese Stewart said, “I think it’s real interesting, the limitations that these e-cigarettes, at least until we have this ordinance in place, just don’t have on them. I was in a store the other day… and they are right by the counter, kid level, right by the candy bars, which is very interesting.”

District 3 Commissioner Diane Hutchings agreed. “Part of the problem with these products being placed where children can reach them? If you’re stealing it, you don’t get carded. So it’s very intentional that they’re out where the kids can get them because the whole objective is for the child to become addicted to the nicotine. So, by placing these out of the reach of the children, and to where they have to ask for assistance, we’re just hoping to put in one more stop-gap… to protect our children.”

Commissioner Diane Hutchings

“Hopefully, this ordinance will inspire other communities to take similar action,” added Dr. Hummel.  “These are common sense rules to keep a highly addictive drug out of the hands of children and teens until the FDA provides further guidance.  This ordinance will have no impact on the current availability of these products for adults.”

District 2 Clay County Commissioner Doug Conkey summed it up best. “You just have to be ever vigilant to protect the young kids.”