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Fact: Whenever the FDA or its respective Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb announces thoughts towards vaping, it turns our industry upside down, not because of the actions taken, but rather, the alarming statements spoken.
The FDA is now considering to ban all online sales of vapor products. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke on a panel discussion on C-SPAN's Axios Tuesday and explained that the FDA now looks to take a more hard-line approach towards curbing the youth vaping "epidemic." Gottlieb told the panel: "One of the things we're looking at is whether or now we should change our regulations to address how these products are being sold, particularly how they're being sold online." He continues, "we have two problems - one with appeal - they are too appealing to kids and the other is access - they are too accessible to kids and we think the online portal is one of the reasons why they're so accessible."
This rhetoric geared towards sales and accessibility of vapor products is yet another aspect of the FDA's crusade to severely cripple, if not, completely destroy the American Vaping industry. On top this "characterizing flavors" have been a top concern for the agency for a number of years. Gottlieb further adds that there are to be "new limits" on flavored e-cigarette products, citing that "fruit" and "sweet" flavors are attracting the youth and further adding to this seemingly arbitrary epidemic that is happening.
Within minutes of the interview, the proposals were met with heavy criticism by health professionals, academics, and vapers alike. American Vaping Association's Gregory Conley stated that enforcing bans on both flavors and sales could do huge damage to America's public health environment. Conley continued to state, "I vape Tropical Twist, so it has some pineapple to it, so mostly I use fruits - the vast majority of adult vapers are using non-tobacco flavors and it's the non-tobacco flavors that so many of ex smokers say: 'That's the reason why I was able to quit because once I'd had mango, once I'd had watermelon, a tobacco cigarette didn't taste so good after a week or two.'" Seeing that vaping has become popular over the last 6-7 years, over 4.5 million ex-smokers have successfully quit combustible tobacco products for good.
Should the FDA move forward with the ban, there will be clear winners and clear losers to this. For the winners, expect the likes of JUUL and other tobacco-owned brands like MarkTen, IQOS, and VUSE to gain an even larger market share as these brands possess contracts with convenience stores, smoke shops, and gas stations, allowing easy access to its products. As a result of the ban and the remaining 99% of brands effectively restricted to vape shops, expect prices on these products to rise significantly, further alienating your typical blue-collar smoker from effective alternatives.
As for the losers, expect the average end-user to be the clear-cut loser. The majority of American vapers live in the rural communities where the typical vape shop is not always easily-accessible. As for those that live in big cities, local governments have already started banning flavors or introducing high taxes, therefore making access to vapor products even more difficult for those looking for an alternative. In addition to the end-user, expect businesses to be hit. While manufacturers such as BLVK Unicorn and other Premium E-Liquid brands more-or-less rely on business-to-business transactions to sustain. Businesses such as the various online retailers however, will suffer tremendously. As businesses face closure, expect lay-offs and a eventually a decline in economy as quite possibly an entire industry suffering as a result.
We understand that vaping has become the talk of the town, especially as it pertains to youth initiation. There are however, better ways to address problems. As history states time and again, prohibition does not work. It didn't work with alcohol, continues to not work with drugs, and should it be called into service for the sake of tobacco, it will not work. What does work however is cooperation, meticulous regulation, and enforcement. As a Premium E-Liquid manufacturer, we will stand up for the products and community we believe in, while continuously looking to question the decisions made by those in power. That is our right, both as actors in the vaping industry, and as citizens of the United States of America.