The mainstream media have labeled new Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, which took effect on August 8, 2016, as "rocking the vape industry to its core." Hyperbole aside, and the desire to sell papers and earn clicks to online blogs, the mainstream media's obituary for the nascent vaping industry is best answered with the famed Mark Twain quote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." The fact is, industry insiders have long anticipated these regulations, and have taken steps to ensure a seamless transition to selling vape products in this new legal landscape.
New Federal Regulations
The "meat" of the new regulatory rulings call eliquid juice manufacturers to maneuver the governmental application labyrinth, and adhere to new labeling and tamper-proof packaging requirements that aim to preserve the integrity of the product after it has landed on store shelves. Also under the regulatory microscope, the new rules make it illegal to sell e-juice to minors, it is no legal to market vapes as a smoking cessation tool, and shops can no longer allow customers to sample flavors prior to purchase. For reputable businesses already operating under the spirit of the new federal dictates, these changes simply codify best practices already in place.
Industry Already Anticipated FED Moves
As mentioned above, the industry was not blindsided by these developments owing to the fact that the FDA had long set their sights on a closer regulation of the industry, so savvy operators have already incorporated these requirements into their existing business model.
Aware of the regulatory rumblings, operators have long had labeling and warnings included as part of their packaging. Additionally, those manufactures that have fallen behind the curve have two years to maneuver the bureaucratic maze to submit their documentation to the FDA. For those, unable or unwilling, to adhere to these new rules, established shops are happy to see "bad actors" fall by the wayside.
An Older Demographic is the Norm
Strictures against underage smoking are widely welcomed across the sociological spectrum as we can all agree that a line needs to be drawn in an effort to stem the tide of underage smoking. While the new regulatory rulings admonish sales to minors, the reality is that the bulk of e-liquid vapes are consumed by a much older demographic.
While the new rulings prohibiting advertising vaping as a viable alternative to smoking, the reality of the market experience is that the bulk of users are older smokers looking for a way to stay their smoking habits. As such, the clientele of most vape shops are more likely to be sporting the beer gut of a 30 year old than the Hello Kitty backpack and attending the local junior high school.
Vaping in the New Regulatory Landscape
While the "Big Tobacco" lobby might welcomes the FDA move, as a tool to bludgeon the competition, the search for smoking cessation methods continues at the consumer level, and they have already readily identified drip juice as their preferred cessation method, so the immediate impact on retailers will prove to be muted.