Starting on Jan. 1st, vape manufacturers and retailers in Texas will commit a Class B misdemeanor if they market, advertise, sell, or cause someone else to sell an e-cigarette product. The legislation, which is part of the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act, applies to these e-cigarette products.
- Vapes that depict cartoon-like fictional characters
- Vapes that imitate or mimic trademarks of products that could be marketed to children
- Vapes that include a symbol that is primarily used to market to minors
- Vapes that consist of a large image of a celebrity
- Vapes that include an image that resembles a food product, including candy or juice
House Bill 4758 faced minimal opposition in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law on June 17th. House Bill 114, which mandates that school districts place students caught with vapes on or within 300 feet of campus in an alternative school for 30 days, followed shortly after in September.
The hysteria around teen vaping is reaching a fever pitch in Texas, but the statistics don’t match. The 2021 Texas Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) found that 16% of middle and high school students reported having used or tried e-cigarettes, a significant reduction from 21% in 2020 and 22.8% in 2018. The percentage of young people in Texas who use e-cigarettes is on the decline, yet officials are still gripped by the idea that e-cigarette packaging is increasingly marketed toward children.
That being said, recent research backs the idea that packaging matters. One study measured how likely youths in the UK are to want to try e-cigarettes in plain packaging. It found that youths are more likely to have no interest in trying an e-cigarette that is in standardized green packaging, rather than the same e-cigarette in branded packaging.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminded Texans of the upcoming legislation around e-cigarette products that supposedly market to children. “These products are intentionally designed to attract minors,” Hegar wrote. “I greatly appreciate the partnership with retailers across this state to help us protect one of our most vital resources: our children.”
Vape retailers and manufacturers who break the rules will face harsh consequences. They can expect civil and even criminal penalties, including:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
Vape retailers can also have their permits either suspended or removed entirely, but this penalty is only applicable to repeat offenders.
Adult vapers in Texas will also be impacted by the new legislation. The rush to remove products from the market, create new packaging, and roll out the changes across entire brands may have a bottleneck effect on production. As retailers scramble to avoid penalties, adult vapers will be left without their favorite e-liquids.
Recent concerns about youth uptake have had a ripple effect across the globe. French officials banned single-use e-cigarettes, and the UK government has passed a “smokefree generation” law. Given this trend, we would not be surprised to see Texas officials taking a more extreme approach.