Oregon’s New Packaging Rules Take Effect on September 1, 2018

Imagine choosing from hundreds of nearly identical bottles, none using images of fruit or candy, or brand distinguishing symbols or characters and fruit?

This is the life of every vaping Oregonian.

New Oregon rules for e-liquid packaging went into effect September 1, and they’re unlike anything anywhere else in the country. The vast majority of commercial e-liquid sold in the U.S. will be illegal to sell in Oregon, unless the labels and packaging are significantly altered.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, “An inhalant delivery system is packaged in a manner that is attractive to minors if because of the packaging’s presentation, shape, graphics, coloring or writing, it is likely to appeal to minors.”

“Inhalant delivery system” means a vaping product that can be used for either e-liquid or a cannabis vaporizer. Similar labeling rules apply to cannabis in all forms, although since edibles like candy and pastries are themselves legal, dispensaries would have little need to put a picture of, say, a cookie on a cookie’s label.

The list of images and words that can’t be used on e-liquid bottles and packaging is extensive. But, according to the state, the list is “non-exclusive," which means that state regulators could add to it without warning.

This is the “non-exclusive list” of label image elements “likely to appeal to minors”: Cartoons, Celebrities, Athletes, Mascots, “Fictitious characters played by people," “Other people likely to appeal to minors," Candy, Desserts, Soda, “Food or beverages with sweet flavors including fruit or alcohol," “The shape of any animal, commercially recognizable toy, sports equipment, or commercially recognizable candy."

The state also prohibits the use of “terms or descriptive words for flavors that are likely to appeal to minors,” including: tart, tangy, sweet, cool, fire, ice, lit, spiked, poppin, juice, candy, desserts, soda, sweet flavors including fruit, and alcohol flavors.

The prohibition on e-liquids “packaged in a manner that is attractive to minors” even applies to e-liquid that doesn’t contain nicotine. The laws will be enforced by state officers by doing random inspections. The fines for non-compliance can be very steep.

  • Minimum of $500 for the second violation within a 24-month period of the first violation
  • Minimum of $800 for the third violation within a 24-month period of the second violation
  • Minimum of $2000 for the fourth violation within a 24-month period of the third violation
  • Minimum of $8000 for the fifth violation within a 36-month period of the fourth violation
  • Minimum of $15,000 for the sixth or subsequent violation within a 48-month period of the fifth violation

Since each bottle that breaks the rules counts separately, the fines could easily put a shop out of business as the maximum total of fines in one inspection is $1.05 million!!! You read that right, over one million dollars in one inspection.

With the vaping panic growing, and the FDA considering restrictions on e-liquid flavors, you can expect to see similar proposals coming from other state legislatures. It's imperative that vapers and vape shop owners get involved in their local governmental associations to help enact change.