The Future of Vaping: How Regulations Will Affect Vaping
The FDA’s proposed regulations for e-cigarettes leave a lot to be desired. With product safety standards being entirely absent and the bulk of implications for companies being the requirement to devote countless man-hours to filing paperwork, many have called the current proposal a de-facto ban on the majority of vaping products currently available.
A proposed bill – HR 2058 – is trying to change the “grandfather date” and save the products currently on the market (and, potentially, the industry as a whole), but nothing is certain yet, and the FDA’s original deeming regulations seemed to be almost looking for a reason to come down hard on things like flavors.
So, how do the advocates think the coming regulations affect vaping? Will we see more restrictions coming in the future? Are taxes inevitable?
The Future of Vaping: Table of Contents
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Part 2: How regulations will affect vaping? (you are here)
The Worst Aspect of the Currently Proposed Regulations
First, we asked the advocates what the very worst thing about the currently-proposed regulations is, in their view.
The pre-market approval process and associated projected costs, that 99% of this industry will not be able to afford to go through, thus leading to 99% of this industry getting destroyed through regulations.
Lynda Abshear (“Lynda73” of r/electronic_cigarette):
According to the FDA, each application for products made after 2008 (the current grandfather date) will take companies about 5,016 hours and cost roughly $300,000 per application. Obviously, almost no company could bear this cost, leaving only Big Tobacco to sell stick-like batteries, which most of us who have used them know are not nearly as effective as the more modern equipment. Not to mention, pre-filled cigalikes tend to be quite expensive.
By far, the most damaging aspect of regulation on the Federal level would be the FDA requirement for pre-market authorization. If congress doesn’t manage to protect the industry via the FDA funding bill currently making the rounds, the industry as we know it will have an expiration date.
But, the feds aren’t the only ones to watch out for. State and even city governments can act much faster and with fewer checks and balances than the federal government. There has been some very disturbing state regulation as of late and it will likely get worse as states try to make some money off industry.
Regulations are important; they’re also inevitable. The most damaging aspect, though, is the severity of the restrictions imposed. Anything that will limit our choices down to a single type of product will be the destruction of this product and will result in less people switching, which means more people will continue to smoke or go back to smoking. The end result would be more cigarette tax money for all those health orgs and tobacco control people to keep telling you not to smoke.
Nick (Grimm Green):
The most damaging thing would be that vaping, as we know it, is gone. Overnight it could all be gone and done. Vaping the way we vape would be criminal activity; it would be no different than the prohibition of the past.
What are those regulations that are currently proposed? They are all over the place. Some states/cities/towns want to tax, some want to ban, and some want to kick the ball down the road and let the Feds propose regulations. The most damaging aspect of any regulation is that once it begins it never stops.
Lynn Lutz (“Baditude” of ECF)
I fear that the FDA will end up over-regulating e-cigarettes. The current proposals by the FDA would suggest over-regulation, as they are in favor of the tobacco companies who have gotten into the ‘game’ of selling e-cigarettes. Their recommendation to the FDA to ban open container e-liquids (a ridiculous attempt to stop consumers from potentially adding unsafe chemicals to their purchased e-liquids) and limit e-liquid sales to closed container, non-refillable cartridges is an example. […]
Proposed FDA regulations would give an unfair monopoly to the tobacco industry because their focus has been limited to the entry-level cigalikes. By banning open container e-liquids, and banning flavors other than tobacco and menthol, the vaping industry as we now know it will cease to exist.
Characterizing Flavors: The Next Target for Regulation?
One of the main things that makes vaping as enjoyable as it is and also one of the most controversial elements (in the media, at least) is the “characterizing flavors.” This is something of a misnomer when applied to vaping – by definition, all flavors other than that of PG, VG and nicotine are “characterizing” – but effectively means all flavors other than tobacco and menthol. These are the ones we’re frequently warned are luring kids into addiction, and the FDA’s draft regulations actually requested comments that could be used to justify limitations on them. Do the advocates think that bans on other flavors are on the horizon?
If tobacco control and big tobacco have their way, then yes. I think they fail to realize that flavors go hand in hand with vapers’ success at not returning to tobacco. If they stop pushing this false claim that kids are moving to smoking once trying e-cigs, then it might be possible to avoid flavor bans.
I hope not. But legislators and policy makers are always looking to do that and there’s already been a lot of push towards a ban on flavors. I, for one, will not give up flavors without a fight and I think most vapers would not give up with a fight.
Sure, anything can happen. It would be stupid, but the government always does stupid things. Teenagers experiment, it’s in the DNA. Vaporizers and e liquid should be the least concern for parents. And I am a parent with two grown up daughters; believe me I know teenagers have to push up against societal and parental rules, and worrying about your child vaping is laughable.
It’s possible, the opponents of e-cigarettes would certainly push for one once they had a little more control over what’s happening now.
Lynn Lutz (“Baditude”)
Limiting flavors to just tobacco and menthol, and banning candy, fruit, and desert flavors would be done – allegedly – to ‘protect the children.’ The problem with this ideology is that many adults like flavors which don’t taste like a cigarette.
Nick (Grimm Green):
That’ s one of the things that is up in the air right now. I will say that if we do get to keep flavors, a lot of manufacturers are going to have to change their labels to use far less cartoon characters and child appealing graphics, and stop making their juice labels look like candy.
E-Liquid and Devices: A New Source of Tax Revenue?
The moves to tax vaping currently being undertaken by many states make it seem like vaping will undoubtedly cost a lot more in the future. But are such taxes inevitable?
I don’t know if it’s inevitable, but there’s definitely a risk there. Sin taxes are just easy money for a lot of states. The perception is that vaping is more of a pleasure thing than a way to keep people from smoking.
Lynda Abshear (“Lynda73”)
High taxes would raise the cost of vaping to the same as smoking, if not more, and that makes no sense for a product that is going to save the government in the long run because of fewer smoking-related deaths.
I would like to say no. I think whatever tax, be it VAT or a state sales tax, is more than enough. I don’t want to see governments punishing people for stopping smoking further by making vapor products less affordable than cigarettes.
Lynn Lutz (“Baditude”):
I have no problem with the normal taxation of e-cig products, but not as a ‘sin tax’ like on tobacco and alcoholic products. Regular federal/state taxes in line with normal consumer products should be used.
There are a lot of people that say that, or think that, both on the side of consumers as well as some of the industry stakeholders out there. The idea that allowing for a little taxation would legitimize the industry is silly. It would just lead to increases in the additional taxation (beyond sales tax) every year and those are much harder to fight and fend off than the initial push for extra tax. Sin tax on combustible tobacco products exist because of the death and disease (and associated cost to the public) they cause. You can’t apply such additional tax to vapor products when the level of harm is a completely different subject. If anything, vapor products should be under a subsidy to help get them to smokers seeing as they are effective.
Unfortunately yes, if vape products are officially classified as tobacco products. Never underestimate the power of government greed. People really do need to understand that this thing we call ‘government’ has never cared for any one individual, it has always done two things consistently, spend more money, and take more money from its citizens. The government is always looking for new revenue streams so it’s not like any politician would actually consider vapers when it comes to opening a new revenue stream.
Conclusion: “Vaping, as we know it, is gone”
This is really why we’re all talking about regulations, writing extensive comments to regulatory agencies and following-up on calls to action from advocacy groups as fervently as we can: in Grimm Green’s words, the current proposal would surely mean that “Vaping, as we know it, is gone.” Before we even get onto the potential for irrational bans on the flavors that helped so many of us kick smoking and the chance of disproportionate sin taxes, the basic reality is that, the way things are going, the industry will be destroyed. The worst thing about all of this is that the only ones with the firm financial foundation to weather the storm will likely be the tobacco companies.