It’s only been a week since we first learned the details of the FDA’s plans to regulate electronic cigarettes. With each passing day, there has been new information surfacing and it has caused a wave of fear to spread across the entire vaping community. While the regulation proposal seemed pretty harmless at first, with a little closer study, it turns out that it could be potentially dangerous. In fact, it could give big tobacco companies complete control over the entire vaping market.
The main problem centers on the FDA’s requirement for all ecig companies to file applications for any product that was released after 2007. If you take a look back at ecig technology prior to that date, there were very few options available and most ecig designs were still far from perfect. Since then, vaping has rapidly advanced and those old starter models have evolved into the ecig products that we know today. The FDA’s application requirement will basically force all ecig companies to undergo a lengthy review process for every single product they offer. Not only will this be extremely time consuming, but the financial cost could be devastating.
Greg Conley, a board member of the American Vaping Association, told the Washington Post that the regulatory proposal was dangerous and could potentially cause many small businesses to shut down. “A lot of these companies, they are supporting several employees, investing any profits back into their business… they can’t afford this, and it’s going to lead to whole lot of consolidation and increased prices for consumers.”
Conley said that the FDA’s approach “all but guarantees the closure of tens or hundreds of small and medium sized businesses that have no connection to Big Tobacco.” While the large tobacco companies have the financial resources to embrace the FDA’s requirements, most small businesses will have no way to finance the application process. “The FDA estimates that just one application will require over 5,000 man hours to complete, meaning that the true cost of a single application is likely in the millions,” Conley said.
As a small business owner, Jason Magnuson, owner of Wyoming Vapor Company, expressed frustration and fear over the FDA’s regulatory proposal. “They’re requiring a separate registration for every flavor, every nicotine level in every flavor, every bottle size of every flavor, and for every propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin mix in every flavor. So for one of my flavors, that’s over 40 licenses and I have forty flavors.”
Owner of Straight Line Vapors, Amy Schicketanz, also feels helpless to compete when the regulatory process will be so expensive. “Basically they’re going to make us do what drug companies do. We have to apply so for instance I carry ninety and five different nicotine strengths, to get one of those of the market is going to cost me right around ten million dollars.”
Pressure is mounting for small ecig companies to figure out a way to survive the coming changes. Otherwise, big tobacco will gain total control of the ecig market and that can’t be a positive outcome. “What they’ve done is put a time clock on us and in two years it will put every small business that tries to do this like me out of business, and the only thing that will be left is the tobacco companies,” Magnuson explained.
While the situation is certainly frustrating, ecig companies will have to comply if they want to stay open for business. The only alternative is to offer nicotine-free ecigs and that just isn’t a sustainable option when consumers are looking for stronger nicotine strengths to help replace their old cigarette habits.
How do you think the FDA regulations will impact small businesses? Will we see the tobacco companies dominate the vaping market in the future?