The FDA’s draconian regulation of the vaping industry has vapers far and wide stockpiling their favorite vaping supplies and barricading themselves in their basement. However, while these laws are blatantly anti-consumer and welcomed only by large tobacco companies, the FDA’s ‘vape-pocalyse’ is not the end for vaping. The vaping industry and community can and will survive regulation, in some shape or form. Here’s how:
- Vaping Companies Can Survive with Just a Handful of Very Popular Products
We’re going to look back on 2012-2016 as a golden age of vaping. Never again will vapers have access to such a wide variety of innovative products. We don’t know for sure, but it looks likely that we’ll lose 99% of the vaping market overnight.
But we won’t lose 99% of vapers overnight, and these people will still want to buy and enjoy e-liquids. Imagine a parallel world in which our choice of beer was reduced from thousands of different options to about ten. Sure, we would be sad to lose the variety, but would that stop us from drinking beer? The remaining ten brands would be hugely successful, perhaps more successful than ever before!
In a similar fashion, we can imagine that brands like Mount Baker Vapor will continue by selling just four or five of their most successful products out of their current range of hundreds of different products — just as Coca-Cola remains hugely successful through sales of just three drinks: Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Yes, such a situation unfairly helps the large tobacco companies, and yes, we’ll likely lose some vapers to smoking, but so long as there is demand for a source of nicotine which doesn’t put carbon monoxide into your bloodstream there will be a market for vaping.
- FDA Regulations Won’t Stifle Innovation Outside of the US
The FDA have made it much more expensive for US-based companies to sell innovative new vaping product in the US. But fortunately, the FDA can’t control what will happen outside the US. We already see plenty of innovation occur in different countries — Kangertech and Innokin are based in China, while Vampire Vape and several other up-and-coming e-juice manufacturers are based in the UK. The most successful innovations will be trialed in other countries and eventually leak into the US market once they have proven to be successful.
It’s also the case that ‘underground’ vaping innovation will continue in the US. Just as the original box mods were designed in garden sheds in Britain, the next vaping breakthrough could well be engineered in someone’s basement in the US. Thanks to the vaping forums, these innovations will be shared almost as soon as they occur.
- A Black Market Will Emerge
Whenever there’s prohibition there’s a black market. We saw it happen with the prohibition of alcohol and drugs, which were such catastrophic failures that we are still reeling from the consequences to this day. But because our lawmakers have not learned from the past they are doomed to repeat it.
The e-cigarette black market will trade in parts and e-juices that are banned by the FDA. It’s likely that there’ll also be a surge in DIY mixing as people learn how cheap and easy it is to import concentrated nicotine from China and mix your own e-liquid. Already one vaping company has promised to teach its customers how to mix at home in response to the FDA’s regulation.
We could see DIY mixers emerge who supply their entire neighborhood with e-liquid, similarly to how moonshine became popular in prohibition-era America.
- The FDA Will Face Some Serious Legal Challenges
As of August, the market will be frozen, and then vaping companies have two years to put together a PMTA (pre-market tobacco application) if they want to continue selling their products. So vape-pocalypse is coming, but it’s yet to fully arrive. And it may never arrive.
Two years is a long time and it gives vaping companies and vaping advocates plenty of time to launch a serious legal challenge. We already have the Cole amendment which could potentially mean that all vaping products that are on the market now will get to stay on the market.
But it’s also possible that someone could challenge the FDA’s regulations for being unconstitutional. As it is currently worded, the FDA’s regulation prevents vaping retailers from describing their products as “tobacco free” or saying that they “do not produce smoke”.
Think about that for a second. If you have a nicotine-free e-cigarette, a device which does not contain tobacco in any way, you will be legally prohibited from telling a customer that this e-cigarette does not contain tobacco. You will also be prohibited from telling a customer that this nicotine-free e-cigarette would be better for their health than a regular cigarette. And this is supposed to be in the interests of public health?
- We Will Have Much More Data to Show That E-Cigarettes Are Safe
At the moment, the FDA has been able to regulate against e-cigarettes so harshly because they are supposedly unknown. Despite the complete lack of evidence, a doctor simply has to say that there “may” be health risks and they will properly be featured in major newspapers around the world.
The PMTA will require vaping products to be tested to within an inch of their life. The aim of the PMTA is to stunt the growing industry, but we will at least get laboratory test results by the bucketful showing exactly what chemicals are in e-cigarettes. Once this data is out there, it will become much more difficult to invent health scares that damage vaping’s reputation.
None of this is to excuse or agree with the FDA’s regulations, which I suspect will be looked back on as one of the greatest legislative errors of this century. But when faced with a threat that challenges its very existence, the vaping community needs to learn to organize rather than panic.
Author Bio: Pascal Culverhouse founded the Electric Tobacconist in 2013. Less than 18 months later the business was the UK’s number one online retailer of e-cigarettes. He still finds time to vape everyday and keeps up with the latest e-cig trends.
Written by Luke Nicholson