There are about five vape shops in the Auburn-Opelika area that specialize in electronic cigarettes, and many in the industry fear for their survival with new U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations looming. E-cigarettes are devices used to vaporize an “e-juice” comprised of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and varying levels of nicotine. E-cigarettes have become popular over the past few years, partly due to the belief of some consumers that e-cigarettes are not as dangerous as regular cigarettes.
E-cigarette Wholesale’s Survival Analysis.An FDA rule issued on May 10 deemed e-cigarettes and e-juice as tobacco products and therefore subject to FDA control under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Most e-juices contain nicotine derived from tobacco, but none contain any actual tobacco.The rules also classify e-juice that contains no nicotine or synthetically derived nicotine as a tobacco product.
Initially, employees at vape shops can no longer assemble or repair e-cigarettes without being registered as a tobacco manufacturer. They also cannot make any statements about potential health benefits of e-cigarettes, make a sale to anyone without age verification or provide free samples of e-juice.
As a result, the winner of a competition held by Vapor Craft of Auburn was not able to fully collect on his free year’s worth of e-juice. Stores like Vapor Craft have adjusted to the first round of regulations that went into effect Aug. 8, though manager Ryan Lipson said its customer service has taken a hit without them being able to help new e-cigarette users like they have in the past.
E-cigarette Wholesale’s Survival Analysis.American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley said the real test for the industry will be after Aug. 8. By this date, manufacturers must have FDA approval for e-cigarette products introduced after Feb. 15, 2007, a process that costs anywhere from $117,000 to $466,000 per product, including e-juices.
The problem with this, Conley said, is that there was almost no e-cigarette products on the market on Feb. 15.“Every single product on the market today must go through retroactive pre-market approval,” Conley said, “and the cost of that is far out of the range of these small-to-medium-sized businesses.”
While the FDA has said that their regulations are intended to protect minors from nicotine addiction, Conley contended that they will mostly harm recovering smokers.“No one disagrees that more research would be helpful,” Conley said. “We know, based off the existing evidence, that vapor products are, almost without a doubt, less hazardous than inhaling burning smoke into the lungs.”
The American Vaping Association and other e-cigarette advocates are currently battling with the FDA in court on a number of issues, including the constitutionality of the regulations. A hearing has been set in the case for Oct. 19. In addition to the case, a proposed amendment to the 2017 Agricultural Appropriations bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would change the grandfather date of Feb. 15, 2007 to Aug. 8, 2016.
E-cigarette Wholesale’s Survival Analysis.With the fate of those efforts still up in the air, many small brick-and-mortar shops like Vapor Craft fear that they will be forced out of business in two years when the regulations go into full effect.Lipson said that he worries about the employees of the shops losing their jobs as well as the consumers. He believes that the lack of local shops may lead to the creation of an online black market with no oversight and could turn going to the store for a pack of cigarettes into the only option for nicotine consumption.