VANCOUVER — Cigarette vendors have been getting caught off-guard by the emergence of e-cigarettes, but they aren’t going to let it stop them from peddling their wares.
A federal appeals court has ruled that some vendors are entitled to the right to a free sample from a customer after they leave the premises, allowing them to offer customers a choice of tobacco products.
The ruling is a victory for e-cigarette retailers who argue that consumers should have a choice in tobacco products, regardless of what kind of e, but it could also set a dangerous precedent for other industries.
“This ruling will open the door for other businesses to follow suit and take advantage of the consumer choice that consumers have,” said Gary Mascarenhas, president of the National Association of Cigarette Manufacturers.
An online petition asking the court to overturn the ruling has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
Many e-cig retailers say they were surprised by the ruling.
“We are not going to get caught,” said one vendor who declined to give his name.
“We have a full-service facility.
I have no worries about a customer’s desire to smoke in public.”
The court ruling doesn’t affect the ability of cigarette vendors to sell tobacco products in most states, but could affect the businesses in some others.
Some states require that retailers have a permit to sell cigarettes in a business that does not provide smoking facilities, such as a bar or restaurant.
However, many states also require that cigarette vending be a separate business that provides tobacco products or services.
Vendors also can’t sell cigarettes for consumption on site, or sell to minors under 18.
They can sell e-cigs to adults, but must be accompanied by a health advisory sign and must not sell to children under 18 or anyone with a tobacco-related disorder.
E-cigarettes are a newer technology that allows smokers to smoke without the use of tobacco, and the nicotine delivery system delivers nicotine to the lungs instead of exhaling it.
Smokers can also use the device to take a drag on a cigarette and inhale it.
Some e-liquid companies, such to Lorillard and Reynolds American, also have begun selling nicotine-free liquids to consumers, but the products are generally not available in the U.S.