FDA Mandates Begin Killing E-Cigarette Businesses, Driving Smokers to Tobacco

P. Gardner Goldsmith | August 11, 2016
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In May, we reported on the coming attack on the burgeoning “vape” e-cigarette industry by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In June, we followed up that information with news that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was joining the FDA in the onslaught and in promoting the false propaganda that vape liquids and vape devices are “tobacco products” – not because they have any tobacco in them, but because some contain or deliver nicotine.

In other words, things not containing tobacco, not containing tobacco carcinogens, or even derived from tobacco are, according to the feds… tobacco. Brilliant logic.

We warned that the new FDA approval process would cost vape liquid makers $1 million for each new and existing product they wanted to sell, that the expenses would cripple the growing industry, and that these regulations would slow or stop many smokers from dropping cancer-correlated cigarettes in favor of the much safer vape devices. And we weren’t the only ones. Earlier this year, Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, offered a frightening, yet starkly realistic, view of what would happen once the FDA rules went into effect:

“In order for a vapor product to be able to be sold after August 8, 2016, it must be commercially marketed as of that date. This means that after August 8, manufacturers are not only prohibited from releasing new flavors, devices, coils, etc., but they also may not make virtually any modifications to existing products. It is critical that manufacturers (including single shop retailer-manufacturers) understand that any variation of the nicotine level, bottle size, flavor amount, ingredient type, etc. in a current product (i.e., one being marketed on August 8, 2016) will result in a “new” product that will be illegal to sell without preapproval from the FDA.”

But why should the gang in the FDA pay attention to reality or stop engaging in aggressive force? Not dissuaded by Mr. Conley or the US Constitution, the FDA stuck with the command that their starry array of mandates and prohibitions be abided starting on August 8th of this year.

August 8th has arrived, and the reports of e-cigarette sellers closing -- and e-cigarette consumers having fewer choices to help keep them from returning to cigarettes -- have begun like summer storms, just as predicted. All over the map, the industry is reeling…

Mario Weaks, an employee at a Sacramento, CA, vape shop called The Vapor Spot, is a former smoker himself. This week, Weaks explained to KCRA TV reporter Dana Griffin that he feels particularly attacked by the FDA:

“The rules now cut us off at the throat. It (the FDA) doesn’t allow us to give any proper advice on how to use them (vaporizers), how to work them properly…”

And Griffin knows that vaping helps smokers quit and helps potential smokers engage in a safer habit. He knows because he smoked for 25 years and credits vaping for saving his life.

“My heart was enlarged by 25%. I was actually… I’m getting emotional about this, ‘cause I was literally walking around waiting for a stroke to happen.”

Indeed, numerous studies indicate that vaping reduces cigarette use per capita and, by association, reduces tobacco-related maladies.

The Royal College of Physicians recently stated:

“Provision of the nicotine that smokers are addicted to without the harmful components of tobacco smoke can prevent most of the harm from smoking.”


“E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.”

In early spring, News-Medical reported on a macro study done by seven scientists and headed by David T. Levy, PhD, of Georgetown University. The study indicates that e-cigarettes are very valuable in helping people quit or not start smoking cigarettes.

‘Writing in the journal Addiction, published online April 25, the researchers synthesize much of the evidence published to date on e-cigarettes, and suggest that use of these products can lead to reduced cigarette smoking overall with a potential reduction in deaths from cigarette smoking.”

And in April of 2015, The Guardian reported information from the CDC itself, showing the strong correlation between the sharp rise in vaping and the sharp decline in smoking among teenagers in the US:

E-cigarette use among high school students jumped almost tenfold from 2011-2014, but the proportion of high schoolers who reported smoking cigarettes fell steeply from 15.8% to 9.2% over the same period, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet this week, reports from around the US tell us e-cigarette store owners are closing shop because FDA bureaucrats are squeezing them out.

In New York state, WIVB TV spoke to the owner of a Buffalo-based vape store:

“Andrew Osborne, the owner of Vapor Trail Electronics spoke to News 4 with several other local vapor store owners Monday night. Osborne said the 499 pages of new federal regulations will cost small businesses millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars. He predicts in two years the industry will collapse and big tobacco will take over, since he said they have the money to pay for the regulations.”

And the FDA won’t even let him speak about vaping as an alternative to smoking tobacco:

“They (the FDA) say, ‘Vaping is smoking.’ And, guess what? If you ask me? I can’t (legally) tell you that it’s not.”

So much for free speech and peaceful commerce in Buffalo -- and everywhere else in America.

In Ohio, the Dayton Daily News spoke to Chris Voudris, owner of a shop called Vapor Haus, and he noted that the FDA rules not only seem to be tailored to wipe out the vape industry, he agrees that the edicts seem to favor big tobacco corporations, which have much higher margins and have been able to leverage their long-standing positions to diversify into foods and household goods.

“This is going to wipe out the e-cigarette business and leave Big Tobacco running the industry.”

But his protestations, like those of his competitors and customers, don’t matter to FDA mucky-muck Robert Califf, who is dead set on falsely depicting vape products as “tobacco” and stifling the speech of anyone in the industry who wants to tell people otherwise. Even the protestations of medical doctors and scientists don’t seem to matter to Califf and his crew.

Dr. Michael Siegal, a professor of Community Health Sciences at Boston University recently reported some of the things that the FDA prohibits sellers and vape manufacturers from saying. These include, but are not restricted to, observing:

•that the primary purpose of electronic cigarettes is to provide a safer alternative to smoking;

•that electronic cigarettes do not contain any tobacco, and are therefore a tobacco product only in a legal/regulatory sense;

•that electronic cigarettes contain much lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines and many other carcinogens than tobacco cigarettes; that electronic cigarette use is much safer than smoking.

The knowledge that bureaucrats claim the power to do this to peaceful people in a nation that is supposedly dedicated to the principle of freedom is telling. This month the vape industry is being destroyed, and the feds will not relent. In the battle between paternalism and freedom, government always helps the former. In the case of vaping, peoples’ lives are directly associated with the freedom to engage in commerce, and are directly threatened by the encroachment of more bureaucratic burdens.

The plight of the vape industry is more than a battle against bureaucrats. It’s a battle for freedom, which is, of course, a battle for control over one’s own life.