Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are devices, often resembling cigarettes, cigars or pipes, designed to deliver nicotine or related substances to users in the form of a vapor. Over the last few years, these products have enjoyed a boom in popularity, thanks largely to marketing claims that promote them as less hazardous alternatives to combustible cigarettes and tout their safety, convenience and cost-effectiveness over commercial tobacco products. Because of the lack of clinical research on e-cigarettes, many public health organizations and policymakers are concerned about their safety and health impact on users. On December 18, 2018, the Surgeon General declared that e-cigarette use among youth is an epidemic, and that aggressive steps must be taken to protect our children from nicotine addiction and other associated health risks caused by e-cigarettes. 

A growing number of state and local governments have taken steps to regulate the sale, marketing and use of e-cigarettes to protect the health of users, reduce youth initiation to nicotine and tobacco products, and promote enforcement of tobacco-free laws. This page provides background information and resources on e-cigarettes, as well as options and considerations for communities and policy makers when drafting or implementing laws or policies that regulate e-cigarettes.

For information about recent state action on e-cigarettes in reaction to lung injuries and vaping deaths in 2019, go to our blog post States and Tribes Stepping in to Protect Communities from the Dangers of E-cigarettes: Actions and Options.


Featured resources are below. Other relevant resources in right sidebar (desktop/tablet), or end of page (mobile).

E-cigarettes and e-liquid

E-Cigarette Regulation - 50 State Review (2021)

A survey of current state and territorial statutes pertaining to e-cigarette regulations in the following areas: definition of “tobacco product,” taxation, product packaging, youth access/other retail restrictions, licensure, and smoke-free air legislation.


Taxing E-Cigarette Products (2021)

Updated fact sheet providing answers to several frequently asked questions about taxing e-cigarettes and related products.

Juul and Gavel

Roadmap to a National Settlement Agreement: How the Tobacco MSA Helps Frame a Juul Settlement (2021)

A few takeaways based on the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement that states might consider when planning any national settlement with Juul Labs.

USPS Mailtrucks

PHLC Comment on Treatment of E-Cigarettes in the Mail (2021)

Congress added e-cigarettes to the PACT Act and required the Postal Service to conduct a rulemaking to make these products, their components, parts, and accessories unmailable in most situations. Public Health Law Center provided comments on the regulatory language, offered edits on definitions and key terms, and discussed how and why the Postal Service should limit any exceptions that would allow these items to be mailed.

White Mailbox

Return to Sender: E-Cigarette Delivery Sales in 2021 (2021)

Brief overview of recent federal legislation that requires the U.S. Postal Service to end the delivery of all e-cigarettes in 2021.

Closed Sign

Vape Shop and Consumer Activity During COVID-19 Non-Essential Business Closures in the USA (2020)

Brief report examining vape shop non-compliance with state-ordered business closures during COVID-19 and changes in their marketing and experiences among consumers. Co-written by Rachel Callahan, Mark Meaney, Carla Berg, Trent Johnson, Nina Schliecher, Steve Sussman, Lisa Henriksen, Theodore Wagener. Tobacco Control (2020).

Cover of Policy Playbook for E-Cigarette

Policy Playbook for E-Cigarettes (2020)

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Public Health Law Center collaborated on this guide for public health practitioners and educators interested in adopting state and local policies to regulate e-cigarettes.

Juul e-cigarette and cartridges

States and Tribes Stepping in to Protect Communities from the Dangers of E-cigarettes: Actions and Options (2020)

In the wake of recent alarming reports of vaping-related lung injuries, the nation’s public health community and government authorities have reacted with concern and a variety of measures.

Juul charging in laptop

Juul and the Guinea Pig Generation Revisited: Juul's Spawning of the Youth Vaping Epidemic (2020)

Resource containing updated evidence of Juul’s marketing practices and the health impacts of youth use and describing regulatory steps and legal actions to rein in Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers.

Juul e-cigarette

JUUL and the Guinea Pig Generation: Public Health Concerns about Use by Young People (2018)

Information resource about JUUL e-cigarettes, their rise in popularity among youth and young adults, and the concerns public health and tobacco control professionals have about these products.


Regulating Electronic Cigarettes and Similar Devices (2017)

2017 policy guide with options and pointers for communities and policymakers to consider when drafting or implementing laws or policies that regulate e-cigarettes and similar devices.