The recently enforced FDA regulations of electronic cigarette currently state that all products launched after the grandfather date of February 15, 2007, must be approved by the agency within the next three years if they are to remain on the market. Since virtually none of the independent companies producing advanced devices can afford the cost of the approval process, what’s going to happen when our time finally runs out and we’re left with only obsolete cigalikes to choose from?
Well, according to a survey of 9040 American e-cigarette users conducted by the UK-based Center for Substance Use Research (CSUR), many of us will turn to the black market, just like experts predicted would happen when the FDA first announced its proposed regulations back in 2014. CSUR asked respondents what they would do if their favorite brands of e-cigarettes and e-liquids would no longer be available, following FDA regulations, and around 65-70% of US vapers said they would “buy their e-cigarettes and e-liquid from a non-licensed vendor”, order them from overseas, or mix their own e-liquid. Only 20% of those surveyed said they would switch to an FDA-approved products (most likely cigalikes produced by Big Tobacco).
According to Ecig Intelligence, of the ex-smokers surveyed – they made up the bulk of the group – 15% said they would return to smoking combustible cigarettes if they’re preferred vaping products were no longer available, a third of dual-users said they would smoke more tobacco than they do now, and even those few e-cig users who had never smoked answered that the FDA ban on modern e-cigarettes would probably push them to take up smoking. So I guess e-cigs are a gateway to smoking, but only if you ban them. Well done, FDA!
“This research shows there is an enormous gulf between the expressed intentions of the FDA and what many e-cigarette users see as being the likely impact of the regulations. The regulators’ aims of improving the quality standards in e-cigarette production, improving the accuracy of labeling, ensuring the safety of e-cigarettes, and to reducing young people’s access to e-cigarettes are all laudable aims in themselves,” CSUR’s Christopher Russell said. “However, if in the wake of these regulations, significant numbers of e-cigarette users turn to the black-market to source their preferred products, then the positive impact of the regulations will have been diminished and significant harm could be caused to those users.”
Russell adds that in light of these results, the FDA should really start to measure the real impact of its e-cig regulations and consider making the necessary changes to prevent such adverse effects. “There is a clear need for the FDA to monitor the impact of these rules to identify whether these adverse effects are occurring and, if they are, to consider reconfiguring the regulations. Clearly it is not in anybody’s interests to drive the population of current e-cigarette users towards the black-market,” the researcher said. “One way of avoiding these adverse unintended consequences would be for the FDA to allow current e-cigarettes and e-liquids to continue to be the subject of a lighter form of regulatory assessment whilst imposing much stricter regulatory controls on any future products being developed by the industry.”
We still have three years to enjoy the nice vaping gear we have now – although no new devices may be introduced to the market after August 8 without going through the expensive and lengthy approval process – and while that may seem like a reasonably long time now, remember that time flies. If we don’t use this borrowed time to at least change the grandfather date to when the FDA regulations came into effect (August 8, 2016), we’ll be left with few choices, none of them very good: buying shady quality products from the black market, puffing on cigalikes, or worse still, lighting up again.