Smokers have been warned to avoid indoor smoking, and the Environmental Protection Agency is asking businesses to stop selling tobacco products containing nicotine to new customers.
The warning comes in the wake of a national wave of smoke shop poisonings and deaths that has killed more than 100 people in the past five years.
The EPA has launched a nationwide program to warn businesses about the dangers of nicotine-containing tobacco products and has issued several warnings about how to avoid buying or selling them, including by asking customers to keep a distance and by avoiding places with outdoor seating, according to a copy of the EPA’s notice to retailers obtained by The Washington Post.
It also recommends that retailers be more diligent about testing their products, and is urging people who purchase products that contain nicotine to do so after giving their permission to a physician, the EPA said.
The program is one of several initiatives that the agency is trying to take in response to a spike in the number of smoke shops poisoning deaths in recent years.
A new EPA study in January found that more than 90 percent of smoke-shop poisonings in 2015 were the result of people smoking cigarettes that contained nicotine.
The poisonings have prompted the CDC to issue a new set of guidelines that call for businesses to keep their indoor smoking areas clear of outdoor seating and outdoor smokers, and to limit the number and amount of outdoor tobacco products that can be sold to customers.
While that may not sound like much of a restriction, the rules were designed to protect public health.
The rule also calls for businesses with at least 500 or more employees to post warnings about the risks of inhaling or inhaling products containing dangerous levels of nicotine.