• By Kayleigh Long

     

    Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” were first introduced into the U.S. market in the mid-2000s but only recently garnered national attention when e-cigarette smokers began developing mysterious lung injuries, some of which have been fatal. As of July 2019, 8% of Americans reported vaping (smoking an e-cigarette) within the past week, with almost 1 out of every 5 adults ranging in age from 18 to 29 years old reporting they vaped regularly.

    In response to the rise of vaping among both 18 to 29-year-olds and school-aged children the federal government raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. As this subset of the American population becomes homeowners, homeowners associations that have only ever addressed the issue of traditional cigarette smoking in their governing documents may find themselves unprepared for the rise in vaping in their community. While there are smoking regulations on the federal and state levels, these regulations are limited in their scope and associations should review their governing documents to determine whether their documents appropriately address this growing issue.

    Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Smoke-Free Public Housing Rule

    On February 3, 2017, HUD’s Smoke-Free Public Housing Rule became effective, requiring all public housing agencies to implement smoke-free policies by July 31, 2018; however, this three-year-old rule has become outdated as it only prohibits the following tobacco products: Items that involve the ignition and burning of tobacco leaves, such as (but not limited to) cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

    Vaping only heats nicotine to create a water vapor and does not involve the ignition or burning of tobacco and, accordingly, does not fall under HUD’s definition of prohibited tobacco products. This discrepancy is noted by HUD’s smoke-free policy checklist, which lists prohibiting e-cigarettes as a discretionary option.

    HUD’s Smoke-Free Public Housing Rule does not apply to most associations as they are not public housing agencies, but it illustrates how many federal and state regulations that address smoking fail to encompass vaping.

    What Steps Can Your HOA Take?

    Associations that want to either limit or ban vaping in their community will need to take a careful look at their governing documents to determine whether they can do so through either rules and regulations or an amendment to their governing documents. Read the full article here