E-cigs will soon be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency announced on May 5, 2016. Some have wondered if this means the end of e-cigs as we know it. So what exactly does it mean for the popular smoking alternative?

The UMHS Endeavour looks at exactly what the new FDA regulations are and how it will affect the $3 billion-dollar “vaping” industry. We will examine information from various online sources about how FDA regulations will change and possibly hurt this relatively new industry.

New FDA Guidelines

Smoking e-cigs (known as “vaping”) involves inhaling a liquid mixture of propylene glycol, nicotine and flavoring through an electronic cigarette. Fans say e-cigs are much less harmful than traditional tobacco, although no long-term clinical studies have been completed yet. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians said in reports last month that although more research is needed, e-cigs are safer than actual smoking and doctors should tell their patients to “vape” as a way to quit smoking.

“Vape” shops have been mostly unregulated until now, and many are “mom and pop” operations. This is all changing with the coming FDA regulations.

A story on Vox.com outlined what the new FDA guidelines will do (they go into effect in 90 days):

• “Ban e-cigarette, hookah, pipe tobacco, and cigar sales — either in person or online — to minors (some states have already done this).”
• “Require age verification by photo ID for purchase of these products.”
• “Require manufacturers of products that hit the market after February 15, 2007, to register with the FDA and submit their products for FDA approval — disclosing ingredients, safety and emissions data, and manufacturing processes — within 12 to 24 months depending on the regulatory pathway followed.”
• “Require companies to put health warning labels on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, including warnings of the possibility of addiction and the health effects of nicotine.”
• “Prohibit selling of covered tobacco products in vending machines (unless in an adult-only facility).”
• “Ban free samples of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

An article in the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania on May 12, 2016 quotes a local woman who says the new guidelines could many “vape” shops out of business.
“What will it do? There are 400 vape shops in the state of Pennsylvania and most of them will close,” said Bonnie Butz, who operates two “vaping” shops in that state. “I will have 13 employees who will lose their jobs.”

An email from a New York City “vaping” shop sent to a UMHS staffer listed specific things fans of e-cigs can do to fight the new guidelines. Below is a sample of the e-mail sent from Beyond Vape in New York City.

  • “Go local: Call your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to support HR 2058. This legislation requests a common sense adjustment of the arbitrary grandfather date the FDA placed in its Deeming Authority Clarification Act.
  • “Worth a try: Sign the official White House petition to overturn the FDA’s ruling on e-Cigarette classification as a tobacco product.”
  • “Be a “Vaping Ambassador”: Start talking to friends, family and co-workers about how important vaping is to you. Post on social media about how you have changed your life for the better. Maybe you are off of cigarettes as a result of vaping. Maybe you can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. This is a pivotal time in the growth of our industry. We need to alter the perception. We need to be open about the positive effects of vaping.”
  • “Together, we will change the dialogue and trajectory of the discussion about e-Liquids, e-Cigarettes and vaping. These regulations are not the end of our industry, but instead a challenge to us to assert ourselves as members of this Union.”

An article on Motherboard.com said the new regulations could mean higher prices, less selection, an emerging black market and more vaping research.

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