New regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning electronic cigarettes may do more harm than good. Some of the proposed changes — health advisory warning labels, e-liquid testing, and clearly labelled ingredients — are all positive things. But they come at a cost.
Business owners estimate that testing batches of e-liquid in particular may run companies hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars. The vast majority of vape shops, all small businesses, cannot incur these costs. In fact, Greg Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association tells the Los Angeles Times he predicts that 99% of small vaping businesses would shutter as a result.
They “don’t have a chance in hell of being able to raise the venture capital to be able to do that,” Conley says.
That’s not the worst of it. Officials from the American Vaping Association say that the new regulations won’t boot all electronic devices off the market, just vape pens and nicotine liquid sold by small- to mid-sized businesses. Large tobacco companies own some of the biggest electronic cigarette brands — the ones that most closely resemble tobacco cigarettes — and they will be able to front the costs associated with these new regulations. If that should happen, that means that big tobacco companies will not only profit from traditional cigarettes, but also from former vape shop regulars who have no choice but to switch back to tobacco products or purchase electronic devices and e-liquid manufactured by big tobacco companies. Current e-cigarette users (there are 2.5 million in the U.S.) will only have about three brands of electronic cigarette to choose from.
If the new regulations are passed, they will not go into effect immediately. Manufacturers will have two years to adjust. The FDA hopes that this will give small businesses time to cut spending, increase capital, or otherwise save up money to foot the bill for increased business costs. Members of the American Vaping Association hope that the organization will consider amending the proposed regulations to make it possible for even modest vape shops to realistically compete in the market.