The FDA's New Rules for E-Cigarettes Are Already Hurting Vape Shops

New regs took affect on Monday and could be too costly for small companies to compete with Big Tobacco.


Lezlie Sterling/ZUMA Press/Newscom

There's no tobacco in electronic cigarettes. That's a fact.

But don't bring facts to the Food and Drug Administration, which on Monday officially began regulating e-cigarettes (and the businesses that make and sell them) under the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act, the 2009 law giving the FDA regulatory power over tobacco products—and apparently things that sort of look and act like tobacco products too.

The consequences are already being felt at places like The Electric Cigarette Lounge in Sacramento, California, which shut its doors for good this week. The store's owner told local TV station KCRA that the FDA's rules snuffed out his business.

Andrew Osborne, the owner of Vapor Trail Electronics in Buffalo, New York, told News 4 that he expects the entire e-cigarette industry to collapse under the new federal rules.

"This is going to wipe out the e-cigarette business and leave Big Tobacco running the industry," Chris Voudris, who owns four retail shops called Vapor Haus in Ohio, told the Dayton Daily News on Monday. "The cost of regulations will be too costly for small companies to compete."

Starting Monday, e-cigarette manufacturers have to register with the FDA. Monday also marked the start of a two year review period during which the FDA will decide which vaping products will be allowed to remain in the marketplace and which ones will be banned.

"They're not being straight forward about what we need to do to keep people and what we can sell and what can be brought to the market now," Jordan Beresko, the owner and president of The Big Vape Theory in Greenville, South Carolina, told WITN-TV. Even after reading through the 100-plus pages of regulations, Beresko says, he's left with more questions than answers.

Manufacturers are not only prohibited from releasing new flavors, devices and products without the FDA's consent, but they also may not make any modifications to existing products, says the American Vaping Association. Under the new rules, any variation of the nicotine level, bottle size, flavors or ingredients in a current product will be treated as a "new" product that will be illegal to sell without preapproval from the FDA.

As Reason's Jacob Sullum has written, this is essentially a slow-motion ban on many vaping products. The FDA's application process will cost $1 million and a separate application will be required for each and every product. Smaller businesses unable to afford the costly application process will likely be driven out of business. The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, an e-cigarette industry group, says the new rules could wipe out 99 percent of all vaping products, and vape shops are worried too.

The rationale for holding e-cigarettes to the same regulatory standard as traditional, tobacco-containing cigarettes is built on the questionable assumption that Americans who smoke e-cigarettes will end up smoking traditional cigarettes too. In announcing the new rules in April, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that increase in e-cigarette use over the past decade had wiped out public health gains from decreased smoking.

"While there has been a significant decline in the use of traditional cigarettes among youth over the past decade, their use of other tobacco products continues to climb – putting a new generation of kids at risk of addiction," wrote Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products in a blog post celebrating the new rules.

The new rules also apply to cigars and hookah products, but at least those products actually contain tobacco.

Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine extracted from tobacco, but considering them the equivalent of cigarettes is an affront to common sense and medical science. There's no combustion, no smoke and no tar in e-cigarettes, along with fewer cancer-causing chemicals. . One study from the United Kingdom found that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than their combustible cousins. Driving e-cigarettes out of the marketplace, as the FDA's new rules are almost certain to do, will make it harder for nicotine-addicted smokers to kick the habit by taking up a safer alternatives.

Despite all those arguments, perhaps the best example of the absurdity of the FDA's decision to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products is the simple fact that vaping doesn't involve tobacco. In fact, some e-cigarette makers offer "tobacco free" nicotine that is synthesized in a lab or produced from other types of plants, like tomatoes and green peppers.

In the eyes of the federal government, though, it's all tobacco—even when it's not.

NEXT: Illinois State's Attorney Hired Own Investigators to Conduct Drug Searches and Seizures

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  1. I can only feel so bad for the people who thought it was actually a good idea to open a vape shop.

    1. I feel the same way about idiots who thought it would be a good idea to open up drive-through hamburger joints.

      1. Was hamburger consumption or the automotive industry on a decades long downturn in the 1950’s?

        1. Are you confusing vaping with tobacco use? Because *tobacco* use is in sharp decline – which is brought on to a large extent by the *existence of vaping*. People are switching from tobacco (where the major health risks are from inhaling burning plant matter and not nicotine) to cleaner nicotine delivery mechanisms.

          Oh, and there’s the not inconsiderable percentage who find that vaping is also a good way to deliver THC without the hassle and the tell-tale traces of traditional marijuana.

          1. Tobacco use has been declining for decades, well before vaping existed.

            Opening a vape shop is more equivalent to buying a beach house on an eroding beach than it is to opening a McDonalds in the 50’s.

            If you think nicotine is healthy, I don’t know what to tell you. They used to use it as an insecticide.

            1. Nicotine has many beneficial effects on human beings and no known long term health consequences.


              You are an idiot.

                1. This has completely devolved from the original point.

                  But sure, let’s discuss your claim that nicotine is “beneficial” and has no negative health consequences. We will do this by looking at actual scientific studies instead of pseudo-scientific articles written by people with no medical education.


                  I’ll simply post the conclusion of this study, because it would make the post much too long if I copy and pasted everything that made you in fact be the one who looks like an idiot.

                  “Nicotine is the fundamental cause of addiction among tobacco users. Nicotine adversely affects many organs as shown in human and animal studies. Its biological effects are widespread and extend to all systems of the body including cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and reproductive systems. Nicotine has also been found to be carcinogenic in several studies. It promotes tumorigenesis by affecting cell proliferation, angiogenesis and apoptotic pathways. It causes resistance to the chemotherapeutic agents. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is an effective adjunct in management of withdrawal symptoms and improves the success of cessation programs. Any substantive beneficial effect of nicotine on human body is yet to be proven. Nicotine should be used only under supervision of trained cessation personnel therefore its sale needs to be strictly regulated. Needless to say, that research for safer alternative to nicotine must be taken on priority.”

                  1. You are in the wrong chat room, dickhead. How about free choice?

                    1. Why don’t you quote me on where I said I was against free choice?

                  2. We will do this by looking at actual scientific studies instead of pseudo-scientific articles written by people with no medical education.

                    The article you refer to is clearly biased and inaccurate because it overstates what is known about cardiovascular risks and carcinogenicity of nicotine.

                    You might want to check the authors and the publication itself: even if you believe in the power of authority and degrees, the “Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol” is probably not the best source for information about the effects of nicotine.

                    1. The Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology is an unreliable medical source? That’s… uh… an interesting take.

                      Perhaps you should, like the person who posted the other articles, actually try READING them.

                      “A majority of neuroscientists and physicians discourage the usage of nicotine, even in the pure form.”

                      “Nicotine, in part through the release of adrenaline, can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Although animal studies have raised the possibility that these changes may damage the blood vessels, potentially leading to cardiovascular disease, the limited data in humans have not confirmed this risk.”

                      At best, the articles which were supposed to prove the “benefits” and “no health consequences” of nicotine say that the science is incomplete. At worst, they’re pseudo-science bullshit with no basis in fact for their claims of “benefits.”

                      Another, ACTUAL MEDICAL STUDY, supporting what the first one did:…..MC4553893/

                    2. I just have to say that a study is a study, and in no way do they imply that their conclusions are 100% accurate. You can find a study for or against anything. Now, overtime a causation can actually be found, but that is usually through experiments instead of studies, and even then science isn’t always accurate.

                      Man does not know everything and never will. We can speculate and theorize all we want, but that doesn’t change that fact.

                      In terms of this story, the people wanted an alternative to tabacco, and so, suppliers started supplying it. That is how capitalism works. If you want to get rid of a product, attacking the supplier isn’t the way to do it,because then that product just ends up on the black market. If there are no consumers, then there are no suppliers. This is just our big, unconstitutional government, picking their winners and losers again,and thinking that they are your parents.

                  3. Almost all the studies are rat studies or in-vivo studies. Basically garbage.

                  4. In-vivo studies and rat studies are basically garbage.

              1. “you are an idiot.”

                I concur with your assessment of the situation.

              2. my best friend’s sister makes $63 an hour on the internet . She has been fired from work for nine months but last month her payment was $14k just working on the internet for a few hours. you can try here >>>>>>>>>>>

    2. I’m making $96 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $120 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss.
      Just working on the internet for a few hours.
      This is what I do.——————-

  2. The FDA’s New Rules for E-Cigarettes Are Already Hurting Vape Shops


  3. I await the outcomes of the inevitable lawsuits.

    It should be entertaining to watch the government try to prove that vape cartridges are tobacco products.

    1. I’m guessing this will be easy-peasy-lemon-sqeezy.

      1. A little deference to the agencies will go a long way, I’m sure.

      2. Isn’t it lemonY?

    2. The will be ‘deemed’ so for the purposes of law.

      Just like .08 is deemed impaired. Just like possession of more than a tiny amount is deemed evidence of intent to distribute.

    3. Vape cartridges are a dessert topping, and a floor wax.

    4. I plan to hopefully be part of lawsuit against this. I starting vaping to quit smoking. I’m a month into no cigarettes, but still rely on my vape pen to quell the cravings. Vaping is my only option. I cannot chew gum and I’m allergic to the adhesives in the patches, so vaping is my only option for nicotine added cessation. If the government takes this away, I will go back to cigarettes, endangering my, and others, lives.

      1. **aided cessation**, not added. (Damn you, lack of edit button)

  4. I guess Reason can’t blame this on on the Republicans.

  5. In other news, Altria is a buy

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

    That’s the point of regulation.

    Someone in the FDA knows a lucrative deal when he sees one.

    1. “The rationale for holding e-cigarettes to the same regulatory standard as traditional, tobacco-containing cigarettes is built on the questionable assumption that Americans who smoke e-cigarettes will end up smoking traditional cigarettes too. ”

      This has nothing to do with the similarity to tobacco and everything to do with extracting money from a hugely successful new business line. “If it’s successful, regulate it.”

  7. I tend to think of the new regulation as an opportunity. The FDA is dropping a daisy cutter on the vape industry which should clear the field for black market entrepreneurs to cash in. The manufacturing cost for juice is pennies on the dollar already, and those margins will only widen as vape shops die.

    1. It’ll be great. I tell you, local hospitals will see an uptick in emergency room cases from tainted tinctures – and the ranks of our health care professionals will expand and we always can use more doctors.

      And the DEA and ATF and local police forces will see a resurgence as we ramp up the War on Things That Are Icky.

  8. The rationale for holding e-cigarettes bicycles to the same regulatory standard as traditional, tobacco-containing cigarettes automobiles is built on the questionable assumption that Americans who smoke e-cigarettes ride bicycles will end up smoking traditional cigarettes driving cars too .

  9. Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine extracted from tobacco

    and many contain NO NICOTINE AT ALL.


    1. ^this. I vape a pipe, started with a low level nicotine mix and have moved on to a no nicotine mix. The jackwagons at the FDA can kiss my ass.

  10. Fuck the FDA.

    1. Fuck the FDA fifty times with a hooked-barb-covered pure-plutonium red-hot poker!

      1. They are evil parasitical bastards intent on driving vape-heads back to fire-breathing on cancer sticks, so long as it gives the FDA money and power-trips!

        1. Accurate and to the point.

  11. e-cigarettes are drug delivery devices, to the same degree that energy drinks are drug delivery devices. And they relate to cigarettes in the same way that energy drinks relate to coffee.

    To the extent that they’d like to be involved, the FDA needs to set standards for the amounts and concentration of nicotine that is safe, and guidelines for what other ingredients may be included or are banned.

    We ran into the same problem a while back with the FDA on albuterol inhalers when chloroflourocarbons were banned. When the drug companies went to change to a new propellant, the FDA treated it as a new drug, with new patent protections. So my $6 inhaler went to $65. Nice.

    What’s the old saying? Lead, follow or get out of the way? How ’bout let’s try getting out of the way for a change, huh feds?

    1. The feds don’t understand the meaning of the words “get out of the way”.

  12. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that increase in e-cigarette use over the past decade had wiped out public health gains from decreased smoking.

    “While there has been a significant decline in the use of traditional cigarettes among youth over the past decade, their use of other tobacco products continues to climb ? putting a new generation of kids at risk of addiction,”

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean?neither more nor less.”

  13. Fuck the FDA with a branding iron. Vaping aside, their ‘good intentions’ have forced many inexpensive, effective drugs of the market and raised the entry barrier to new drugs, devices and therapies to the market to such a point that only the largest corporations have any chance of success and, even then, many people die waiting for the ‘proper reports to be filed’.

  14. Ella . you think Victoria `s storry is astonishing… on saturday I bought themselves a Car after bringing in $7899 this – 5 weeks past and-more than, 10-k last munth . it’s by-far the best-job I have ever had . I began this 8-months ago and almost straight away started to earn minimum $77

  15. Way to destroy more jobs. I guess this industry didn’t donate enough to the Democrats.

  16. FDA is the devil. I’d like very much to be on the jury of anyone who does any woodchipper related violence (which is certainly NOT condoned) to any FDA higher-ups.

  17. Hilliary will right this wrong. She is pro small business and all it will take is for the vape shops to have Bill speak at their national convention. For a small fee of course.

  18. This is one thing that really burns my ass. It’s one thing with do-gooders do something like ban dumping nasty chemicals straight into rivers, despite that it might triple the cost of whatever product made in said factory, or put it out of business altogether. There IS a “positive” to be had in some dumb situations like that. They ignore the costs completely usually, so no reasonable cost benefit analysis ever takes place… But there is a benefit to some extent.

    When they do shit like this that is 110% all negative it just drives me insane. They KNOW vaping isn’t bad. They KNOW it’s better than smoking. So they are literally ok with killing people for NO reason. There’s not even a fringe benefit to this nonsense like there sometimes is. It’s just disgusting. I don’t know how people who do things like this can sleep at night. At the very least I hope they’re being bribed off by big tobacco for this since they’re going to be the only ones that benefit… If they’re not even getting a kick back it would really make my head explode.

  19. So the real winners here continue to be approved gum/patch manufactuers that are selling tobacco products as well as the actual tobacco products.

    I had hoped to live a little longer due to switching over to Vaping, or at least being less obnoxious about my habit, but I guess I’ll go right back to cigarettes after this goes down. That, or just buy vaping products from Canada or Great Britain.

    Of course, once government decides to place a modest sin tax on a thing people like I’m sure that suddenly some of those harms will magically ameliorate themselves. Our ‘public servants’ are funny like that.

  20. The safety nazis at work…destroying everything they touch.

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