FDA Hits US Vaping Business
The American Food and Drug Administration now considers vapour products to be "tobacco products" under its Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. So what does it mean for vaping in the United States?
In a nutshell, this change in classification means manufacturers, distributors and retailers will be subject to a much stricter set of protocols - and while the act is meant to protect the interests of the public, applying these rules will have a hugely negative impact on the industry itself.
The new rules mean anything related to vaping is considered a tobacco product or a component to a tobacco product - whether containing nicotine or not.
When the regulations came into effect in August, e-cigarette sellers were barred from making statements about harm reduction to their customers - even true statements backed by research.
Sellers are no longer able to tell their customers the health benefits of vaping as an alternative to cigarettes - for example by pointing out their products do not create tar or contain the known carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.
Unsurprisingly, people inside and outside the vaping industry have been hugely critical about the implications of the FDA decision - many believe e-cigarette education is key to helping millions of people around the country give up cigarettes for good, and without the ability to share information about how vaping is a safer alternative, people will continue smoking.
Potentially even more damaging to the industry are the new rules around pre-market approval. In order for sellers to keep their doors open they will need preapproval for any new products - this includes new flavours, devices, coils etc, as well as modifications on existing products.
Costly pre-market approval for products means many small, independent vape shops will likely go out of business if they can't afford the cost associated with gaining FDA approval before bringing new products to market.
The rules will effectively snuff the spirit of innovation in the American vaping community and hurt vapers worldwide - some of the most exciting new hardware, e-liquids and manufacturing methods are a result of enthusiastic vapers working in the United States to develop and push the e-cig industry forward.
The good news is, there's a 2-year compliance window for the changes to be made - that means sellers have an opportunity to meet the new rules and can lobby politicians for changes to the strictest of those regulations.
How closely these new rules will be enforced is also a matter for some debate - like similar regulations that have come into effect in the EU, if enforcement is not a high priority or court cases can argue successfully against the changes there's still hope the American e-cigarette industry will continue to thrive.