Action 9: State considers tax on e-cigarettes, feds consider regulations

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - E-cigarettes.

The feds want to regulate them.

The state may tax them.

State tax could mean $5 million for the state each year.  

Sheila Baughman was a cigarette smoker.

"Oh, I was.  From the time I was 19 years old until this January,” she said.

That's 45 years. She went cold turkey in January and switched to an e-cigarette.

"I call this my pacifier. I carry it with me everywhere. And it keeps me from even wanting a cigarette,” she said.

Now, depending what the state does, her pacifier could cost her more.

“I think there will be a tax, the issue's going to be how much, but I think we most likely have a pretty reasonable bill,” Gov. Pat McCrory said.

The bill calls for 5 cents for every milliliter of liquid nicotine used.  Compare that with 45 cents on a pack of regular cigarettes.

"Everybody in the government wants us to quit smoking and the insurance companies want us to quit smoking.  And, when we do, they try to come around behind us and say, 'Oh, now you're doing this, we need to tax that, we need the money off of that,” Baughman said.

The feds are looking to regulate electronic cigarettes and similar products: like nicotine gels and hookah.

Action 9 spoke with the FDA’s tobacco chief Mitch Zeller.

"With e-cigarettes in particular, there are profound questions about product safety, who is using them, how are they being used, and, right now, the marketplace is the wild, Wild West.  The companies can introduce any product, make any claim.  There's absolutely no regulation,” Zeller said.

But, Baughman, who works in a pharmacy, and is all for FDA regulation in some cases, isn't so sure this is one of them.

But the Centers for Disease Control sent a report that calls e-cigarettes an "emerging public health concern." It said people call poison control centers about e-cigarettes 215 times per month.

LINK: CDC report on exposures to electronic cigarettes