Texas Bans Vape Packages with Fruit and Juice Imagery from Jan. 1

A big change is in store for vaping Texans beginning on January 1st, 2024 when a new law takes effect. Vaping, or e-cigarette use, is pervasive throughout the United States with approximately 4.5% of those 18 and over indulging in this practice. Those ages 18-24 had the highest usage at 11% of this age group.

The practice appeals strongly to young adults, many of whom started to vape while they were underage. It is the use by minors that inspired this new, stringent measure. This concern is warranted since 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students report they use e-cigarettes.

Since vaping does have some negative physical effects, officials are concerned about this use among youth, particularly those below 18. The state has traditionally taken steps to protect minors from potentially harmful substances. Vaping devices use a mixture of nicotine or cannabis, water, flavoring, and propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. When heated, these substances produce a vapor that users inhale. Vaping is generally considered significantly safer than smoking cigarettes.

Texas Implements Stricter Regulations on Vape Packaging

Texas e cig laws, specifically, this law in question is known as the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act. The Texas legislature passed it with little opposition, and Governor Abbot subsequently signed it. Although the act was intended to stop the industry from marketing to minor children, its effects are more far-reaching. In fact, on January 1, 2024, many vape products will instantly become illegal, thus affecting adults as well.

As the second most populous state, Texas has a large number of vape users who will have to use caution to stay within regulations. Violating this new law can result in a Class B misdemeanor conviction, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum $2000 fine. Retailers face stiffer penalties. Those convicted of selling vaping products in illegal packaging may lose their sale permits and receive civil penalties of up to $3000. Texas is serious about clamping down on vaping marketing.

These strict measures are meant to protect children who might be lured to vaping by colorful, “fun” packaging. Fixing this problem is more complicated than some believe.

New Regulations Effective January 1st, 2024

What exactly are the new packaging requirements? Any packaging that appeals specifically to youth is now banned, including some imagery popular with adults as well. Fruit, cartoons, candy, and beverage images are no longer acceptable on vaping products in Texas. The law specifically forbids the following packaging:

  • “Cartoonish fictional entities” that look like characters popular with youth. For instance, a sponge that lives in the sea would not be acceptable.
  • Any image that “replicates or evokes” trademarks or “visual aspects of commodities” that are usually targeted at children.
  • Symbols that are often used in children’s marketing such as a peace sign or kids playing sports.
  • Imagery of public figures such as actors in popular movies.
  • Images of edible products, such as soda and candy.
  • Images of fruit pictures that look more childish.

While there is a logic behind the new regulations, some are rather vague, leaving marketers in a quandary about what packaging is acceptable. Some images attract people of all ages, so weeding out those that also appeal to minors will be difficult and expensive, especially for those companies that market nationwide.

The Advantages of Vaping for Adults

Some see this new law as an effort to stifle the vaping industry. Many smokers have found vaping to be an excellent alternative to smoking. The advantages of vaping include:

Safer than smoking: Health authorities agree vaping is safer than smoking. Vaping produces no smoke, so vapers do not inhale harmful tar and carbon monoxide. Those substances cause most of the health risks of smoking.

Control of nicotine level: Vaping allows users to choose their nicotine level. In fact, some choose little to no nicotine at all, which means they have minimal risk of becoming addicted.

Delicious flavors: E-cigarette “juice” comes in dozens of flavors, making the vaping experience more enjoyable.

Many former smokers were able to quit by switching to e-cigarettes and lowering their nicotine intake gradually. Nicotine withdrawal can cause severe reactions, which leads many to return to smoking. Vaping is a valuable non-smoking tool.

A Difficult Balance

No one faults the state of Texas for protecting minors from the ill effects of vaping. They should not be smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Period. Nicotine can harm brain development in minors and may serve as a bridge to smoking.

Some adults do wonder if the legislature and governor have overstepped their mandate, at least through the specific regulations they are instituting. The language is rather vague and can easily lead to confusion among marketers. Imagery with universal appeal is not necessarily targeting children. Determining what the state will decide is a violation will be difficult. Errors will be costly and, in some instances, lead to jail time and large fines. 

Children are attracted to cartoon characters, plump fruits, and certain symbols. Those should be easy to eliminate. Some packaging will be open to interpretation, and that’s where the territory becomes dangerous. The entire vaping industry will be watching this new law’s effects in the coming months. Only time will tell how this partial vape ban legislation will play out in our industry and in other states.

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