Since vaping’s debut in the United States in 2008 it has been aggressively debated and now potential new regulations seem eminent. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, vaping is experiencing a threat from a number of new and proposed regulations that may possibly cause the industry to shut down.
The most prominent threat is the possibility of new FDA regulations that may be put in place by the end of summer. Additionally, many local and state regulations such as exorbitant taxes, the type of accessories that may be purchased and bans on where people are allowed to vape, threaten the industry.
Vaping is a growing alternative to smoking, vaping is like smoking cigarettes without many of the negative effects, such as bad breath, yellow teeth and cigarette burns. Research suggests that vaping is healthier than smoking, but the practice is often demonized in the press and has been the subject a disinformation campaign from various government agencies as well as special-interest groups.
Anti-vaping advocates, like the California Department of Public Health, have had huge success in convincing the general public that vaping poses the same health risks as cigarettes, turning kids into addicts and providing big tobacco with new opportunities. In fact, research demonstrates support for vaping dropped 20 percent, from 85 to 65 percent, by smokers from 2010 to 2013. Typically, this is believed to be the result of “Consider the Children” type arguments sponsored by numerous anti-vaping groups. With this success, more of these types of arguments can be expected to have similar impact.
Vaping May Have a Very Different Look if New Regulations Pass
The current FDA’s proposals will require all tobacco products made after February 2007 to go through a pre-market review before being sold. Under the new regulations all electronic-cigarette products would be treated as tobacco products, and all would therefore be required to pass an extensive FDA examination to ensure quality and safety, the same standards that are currently in place for regulating tobacco.
Of course, having to go through the FDA approval process would become very expensive for the manufacturer. According to even the most conservative estimates, the cost to businesses of having their products go through the pre-approval process could cost up to $10 million, and this cost would not include each additional individual flavor of the same brand. As no company has ever applied for one of these new proposed permits the chance of being approved is highly uncertain. Assuming most industry manufacturers wouldn’t be able to afford this cost many, if not most, vaping products would be removed from the market within a two-year period.
Increased State and Local Taxes and Restrictions
The problems facing the vaping industry are not only from federal regulations, as the states and local municipalities are also free to impose vaping regulations as they see fit, regardless of federal regulations. Wide arrays of local restrictions, ranging from exceedingly high taxes and bans on where vaping is allowed, have already been imposed in many areas. As more states realize there is an abundance of money to be made from taxing e-cigarettes it is increasingly likely that taxes vaping products will surge. Additionally, some states and municipalities have even gone so far as to label vape shops as “illegitimate businesses.”
Here are a few examples of local regulations:
• New York has proposed an indoor vaping ban.
• Oregon has proposed prohibiting samples of e-juices.
• Washington, DC has proposed a 70-percent wholesale tax on e-cigarettes.
• Minnesota passed a whopping 95-percent tax on e-cigarette accessories in 2014.
So far taxes have been more of an inconvenience, as some companies have simply relocated their businesses to more tobacco-business friendly states. As an example, Mount Baker Vapor announced their relocation from Washington to Arizona due to threat of proposed regulation.
Reversing the Trend
Advocacy is the most importance and effective tool for the vaping industry and its patrons. It is critical that all consumers of vaping products be kept aware of the proposed restrictions and the means available to fight the regulations. A perfect example of activism in action was the defeat of proposed California legislation to reclassify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.