The magic date — August 8th — has come and gone. That was the deadline for the vaping industry to start complying with the newly enacted FDA regulations, which have been a topic of debate for some time now. While we still believe that the vaping industry will survive the dramatic changes, we’re well aware of the impact online – and at your local vape shop. It will take 3 years for the vaping regulations to take full effect, but here are some things that have changed immediately and what you should expect when shopping for new vaping gear at your favorite retail venue.
Changes at Local Vape Shops
If you haven’t been by your local vape shop since the 8th, there are a few things you should know before you walk in. Your favorite vape shop may no longer be able to do what it did for you in the past, and things will certainly work a bit differently now. Here’s what you should expect on your next trip for vape supplies:
1.) Have your ID ready. With the new vaping laws, e-cigarettes are treated just like tobacco. This means that vape shops must card anyone who appears to be under age 27. This goes for online vendors as well: you’ll find a new age verification process that is a little more involved on all US-based websites.
The FDA also plans to run undercover checks at both brick-and-mortar and online vapor retailers, so don’t be surprised if service is refused if you don’t have your ID with you, or fail whatever online verification process is required when shopping online. The fines for non-compliance are steep.
2.) No more build help or custom mods. If you’ve had your local shop build your mods for you, replace coils, or do just about any kind of upgrade or maintenance, you’ll now have to do it yourself. Per the new FDA vaping regulations, this is considered to be “manufacturing,” which requires the FDA’s pre-approval process. Your local vape shop won’t be able to afford that, so you’re on your own.
They’ll be able to tell you how to do it, but you’ll have to complete the process by yourself. Also, shop-sold custom mods will disappear.
3.) Samples aren’t free. Retailers can no longer let you sit and sample all of the flavors they have without some type of payment, even if the samples themselves do not contain nicotine. Vaping advocacy groups are suggesting shops charge $1 plus tax for sampling, but the fee will vary from shop to shop.
4.) Less inventory. You may notice that your local vape shop may run low on a lot of products in the immediate future. House juices are still available, but first come first serve and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Most locally-owned vape shops will not attempt to go through the long and expensive approval process to sell in-house juice. Some shops could run low on commercially available juices too, since commercial providers may need time to adjust to the regulations.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s quite a bit of confusion on how the rules effect e-juices in general. Lawsuits over the e-juice portion of the regulations are ongoing, so it could be some time before this issue is fully resolved.
Also, expect far less products on the shelves. Manufacturers must now get pre-approval before devices can be sold, so the rate at which new products are released will slow considerably. This portion of the vaping regulations may be somewhat beneficial, as it should result in higher quality products, but it also means a lot less choice. For now, anything that was available prior to August 8th is still available, but that will change in 3 years if they don’t gain approval.
5.) Higher prices. With the cost of the pre-approval process, there is likely to be an increase in price of vaping products. The largest increases will likely occur at smaller manufacturers who don’t have the volume to spread the cost around to a large number of consumers. In some cases, you might find a few manufacturers closing up shop as a result. It’s a sad reality, but the market will contract.
6.) Cannot discuss benefits of vaping. One of the saddest results of the new FDA vaping regulations is that retailers cannot disclose the benefits of electronic cigarettes, or the advantages of vaping over smoking. Despite mounting research that supports e-cigarettes, the FDA regulations prevent shop owners and employees from sharing the FACT that e-cigs contain significantly less carcinogens than traditional cigarettes, or that vaping has been proven to be an effective tool to help smokers quit; more effective than the patch, pills and gum!
Impacts While Shopping Online
The FDA e-cigarette regulations will certainly have a big impact on brick-and-mortar retailers, but online retailers won’t be immune to the changes. As mentioned above, age verification is now required before any online purchase, so expect a slightly longer checkout procedure on all US-based websites. And you’ll see similar issues with reduced inventory and higher pricing, since the FDA’s pre-approval process will be costly to manufacturers and limit new product releases.
How will this impact overseas purchases? Since the FDA’s pre-approval process isn’t required in foreign countries, you’re likely to see Chinese websites listing products that aren’t available in the US. For now you may have access to these “unapproved” products, but ordering products from Chinese and foreign-based websites is likely to become more difficult moving forward.
This is a broad look at a very complicated law, but these are the changes that will have the biggest impact on vapor users. If new changes occur — the FDA sometimes clarifies things after the fact — we’ll be sure to update this page.