Smoking More And Enjoying It Less: E-Cigarette and Vaping Laws in Utah - June 2018

Terry Jessop & Bitner Newsletter

Issue 52, June 2018

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from cigarette smoking every year. Nearly 10% of those deaths come from exposure to secondhand smoke. This is because cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. Small wonder then, that the Utah legislature passed the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act in 1994. Although the Act went into effect in 1995, it did not include bars and restaurants until January 1, 2007. Since then, with very few exceptions, it has been illegal to smoke in an all-enclosed, indoor public place in Utah.

Places to Smoke are E-Vapeorating

The legislature recently gave the Indoor Clean Air Act a facelift. As of July 1, 2018, smoking, as prohibited by the Act, includes using an e-cigarette. (See UCA § 26-38-2.) Smoking an e-cigarette is also called vaping. There is often a dramatic visual difference between traditional smoking and vaping. Traditional cigarettes (as well as cigars and pipes) burn tobacco. While the tobacco is lit, there is an ever-present trail of smoke from the smoldering nicotine delivery device, not to mention the semi-transparent, blue-white cloud the smoker exhales. With an e-cigarette, however, the user presses a button on an electronic device and inhales heated nicotine together with other chemicals and flavorings, which create a water vapor. What follows upon exhalation often turns the user into a smokestack with feet. The good news is the billowing cloud typically smells deceptively sweet or fruity, unlike the sharp smell of tobacco.

While vaping may be less harmful than traditional smoking, it is still bad for your health, and studies have shown that e-cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional ones. For these reasons, the legislature has now prohibited vaping in indoor public places.

Don't Get Burned by Civil Penalties

But what if someone insists on lighting up, or vaping, indoors? The Act gives the owner of the building, or his or her agent or employee, the right to ask the person to leave the premises. If the offending party refuses, he or she is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100 for the first offence. Any subsequent offences are subject to civil penalties of not less than $100, but not more than $500.

Utah is not the only one that is clamping down on vaping. The Federal Government has banned the use of e-cigarettes on any airline flying to, from or within the United States. An e-cigarette cannot be put into checked luggage. However, it may be carried onto the plane so long as the passenger does not use it or charge the batteries.

Smoke Less and Enjoy Life More

An old cigarette ad asked if people were smoking more and enjoying it less. If so, the ad encouraged smokers to switch brands. Nowadays, smokers, and those who have switched to vaping, are compelled by law to enjoy it less indoors. If you have questions about this or any other legal issue, give us a call. We can help.

© Terry Jessop & Bitner June 2018