Connecticut has passed a new law regulating electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products in various venues, including numerous places of employment.  Effective October 1, 2015, Public Act No. 15 206 (the Act) supersedes and preempts any relevant provisions of municipal laws or ordinances regarding the use of these products. 

The Law

The Act prohibits the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products in:

  1. buildings owned or leased and operated by the state or its political subdivisions,
  2.  health care institutions,
  3. retail food stores,
  4. restaurants
  5. places that serve alcohol under specified permits,
  6. school buildings during school or student activities,
  7. specified child care facilities,
  8. passenger elevators,
  9. dormitories at public or private higher education institutions, and
  10. dog race tracks or facilities equipped with screens for simulcasting off-track betting racing programs or jai alai games.

The Act defines electronic nicotine delivery systems as electronic devices that may be used to simulate smoking in delivering nicotine or other substances to a person who inhales from it, and includes cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs and related devices, cartridges, or other components.

Vapor products are defined as any product that uses a heating element, power source, electronic circuit, or other electronic, chemical, or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size, to produce a vapor that may or may not include nicotine and which is inhaled by the user.

The Act requires covered employers to post a sign indicating that the use of these products is prohibited by state law. The signs must be posted in a conspicuous place in each room, elevator, area, or building in which use of electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products is prohibited. 

The signs must have letters at least four inches high with principal strokes at least one-half inch wide; however, the letter size requirement does not apply to elevators, restaurants, establishments that serve alcohol, hotels, motels, other lodgings, and healthcare institutions.1

The Act also requires the joint standing committee of the General Assembly to hold a public hearing within 30 days after the federal Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule regarding tobacco products becomes final.  The purpose of the hearing is to review the rule and determine whether it recommends legislation concerning products including electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products. 

Penalties

A person found guilty of (1) using an e-cigarette where prohibited by the bill, (2) failing to post required signs, or (3) removing the signs without authorization, commits an infraction under state law.  The maximum fine for an infraction is $90.

Recommendations for Employers

Notwithstanding the limited penalties for violation, Connecticut employers should verify whether they are subject to the new law.  In particular, employers should also pay attention to any public hearing held by the General Assembly regarding electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products, since it may result in new legislation with expanded coverage and penalties.    

Covered employers must prepare signage in accordance with the requirements of the Act as to language and font size, and post in covered locations in a conspicuous place. 

Employers who are not subject to the Act nonetheless may wish to post signs prohibiting the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products, and need not worry about the specific language or font size used in such postings.