A proposal in the Utah Legislature that would tax electronic cigarettes at the same rate as regular cigarettes has put the state at the forefront of a national movement to regulate the increasingly popular devices. More than 35 proposals calling for some type of regulation of electronic cigarettes have been introduced this year in legislatures across the country, but Utah seems to be the only state proposing that they be taxed like regular tobacco, says a tobacco policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Often called "e-cigarettes," the battery-powered devices heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor that users inhale. Their popularity has spiked in recent years, both in the US and abroad. Many states have been waiting for the FDA to come out with regulation before passing their own laws, but states seem to be growing impatient. "The more popular they become, a more prominent public policy issue they become," says the analyst. "Without federal regulation, it's left up to the states." If the Utah measure passes, the state could pull in an additional $1.6 million a year. (More Utah stories.)