E-cigarettes and vaping: What’s on the books in Georgia

Vaping Unveiled

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — What do Georgia and South Carolina laws currently state regarding electronic cigarettes and vaping products?

While regulations in both states do make mention of vaping and e-cigarettes, lawmakers and legal experts told News 3 that right now, not a lot is on the books amid what is considered a nationwide vaping epidemic.

“[Georgia law] is pretty much silent about it,” said Mark Tate, trial attorney at Tate Law Group. 

“There’s no real restrictions about it like there is against smoking cigarettes or cigars or pipes,” Tate told News 3.

The Public Health Law Center, which keeps track of e-cigarette regulations across all 50 states, breaks down what laws and regulations are currently in place in Georgia and South Carolina.

“Are e-cigarettes in any section of the state’s statutes included in the definition of ‘Tobacco Products’?” is a question listed on state regulation pages for both states.

For Georgia and South Carolina, the answer is “no.”

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to…purchase any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products or vapor products for any minor unless the minor for whom the purchase is made is the child of the purchaser.”

Georgia Code Title 16, Chapter 12, Section B

News 3 took a closer look at e-cigarette regulations affecting the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.

Below is a breakdown of Georgia’s e-cigarette regulations. 

Georgia e-cigarette regulations 

How does Georgia define an electronic cigarette?

Georgia Code Title 16, Chapter 12 states that the term “vapor product” includes any non-combustible product containing nicotine that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit or other electronic, chemical or mechanical means — regardless of size and shape — that can be used to produce vapor from nicotine in a solution or in another form.

The types of devices that fall under the “vapor product” category in Georgia include e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-cigarillos and electronic pipes.

It also includes similar products or devices, as well as any vapor cartridge or nicotine containers meant to be used with the devices listed above.

FILE – In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 file photo, a man exhales a puff of smoke from a vape pipe at a shop in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

According to the information provided by the Public Health Law Center, Georgia regulations go on to provide little information on any state excise or special sales tax placed on e-cigarettes.

There also does not appear to be details of any regulations currently in place for e-cigarette packaging.

Regulations do state that there is no retail license or permit required to sell e-cigarettes. 

In addition, they state that foodservice employees cannot use electronic tobacco-simulating devices at work, except in designated areas.

Youth and vaping in Georgia

Chapter 12, Section B of Georgia Code Title 16 states the following: 

“It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to…purchase any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products or vapor products for any minor unless the minor for whom the purchase is made is the child of the purchaser.”

When it comes to vaping, Georgia regulations also state that:

  • The sale of vapor products to people under 18 is illegal
  • It’s against the law to distribute free vapor products on public property to minors within 500 feet of playgrounds or schools
  • People under 18 are not allowed to buy, possess receive vapor products
  • Vending machine sales of vapor products are only allowed in places not readily accessible to minors, except for machines under direct supervision of an employee or machines located at highway rest areas

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) says Georgia’s Clean Indoor Air Act hasn’t been amended to prohibit the use of vapor products where smoking is prohibited. 

CASAA also notes that vaping isn’t allowed on all campuses of the University System of Georgia.

Chatham County and Savannah both have ordinances that prohibit vaping wherever smoking is prohibited. 

The state of Georgia also does not have a tobacco/vapor 21 law that would make it illegal to sell tobacco or vapor products to anyone under 21 years old. There is currently no ban on the sale of flavored vaping products.

READ MORE: What does South Carolina law say about vaping, e-cigarettes?

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