Up In Smoke: New vaping regulations - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Up In Smoke: New vaping regulations

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Back in November, WTOC brought you an in depth look at the vaping industry in Savannah and the threat it was facing once the Food and Drug Administration finally handed down its package of regulations. 

Thursday, the FDA introduced sweeping new regulations of the e-cigarette industry. 

For some, these new rules were expected.  For others, it will send their businesses, up in smoke.
For an industry that has literally been existing on its own private island for the last decade, free of rules, licensing and taxation, any regulation on e-cigarettes is going to burn. 

Let's start by clearing the air of just what the FDA has done with Thursday's announcement.  First, e-cigarette sales are banned to anyone under 18.  And all products will now require health warnings. 

Second, and perhaps the harshest of all, manufacturers must get federal approval to continue selling products launched since 2007. For a 10-year-old industry, that's just about everything.

Surprisingly missing from Thursday's announcement, any prohibition on kid friendly flavors like, cotton candy and gummy bear. The FDA also isn't preventing e-cigarette companies from marketing specifically to children. 

Savannah pediatrician, Dr. Kelly Solms finds that a bit hard to swallow.

"We do know that a lot of children are exposed to e-cigarettes a lot earlier than they would have been to normal cigarettes. And they are much more attracted to them because they're flavored clearly as an attempt to get their attention with things like bubblegum or fruit or cinnamon,” she said.

Every Vape shop owner in Savannah, and there are more than 100 today, knew these regulations would eventually be coming down.  But that's not making it any easier for some to accept. One store owner told us Thursday these new regulations are about money, not public safety.

Curtis Register works with a local vaping supplies distributor. He agrees, saying the costs to shop owners, and in turn customers, are about to jump.

"Each one of these vape flavor manufacturers will have to have each one of their products, each flavor, each milligram tested at a million dollars each in application fees,” he said.

Yes, regulation does come with a hefty price.

Still, it's hard to find a product on the market today that we ingest, that doesn't have some federal regulation attached to it.  Talk to regulators about the impact money has on these new rules and most will point to the free ride the vaping industry has been on for 10 years. A ride that will soon come to an end, as predicted.

 The 9 million adults who vape today, and the countless teens who do the same, will not see the impact of these new FDA regulations for at least three months.

Most of the large product manufacturers will have no problem coming into compliance with the new rules.  The real burn here will more likely be felt by the mom-and-pop shops that mix their own flavors in the back.  If you mix, you will now be considered a manufacturer by the FDA and every new flavor will require federal approval.  

Many of those shops are not expected to survive.

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